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  • Writer's pictureLazio Stories

1993-94 Overview


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The previous season Lazio had managed to reach a UEFA Cup qualification for the first time since 1977. With the new 1993 summer transfers, the Biancocelesti looked stronger, had more depth in the squad and had increased quality. Lazio were ready for Europe and to improve on 1992-93.


The pre-season friendlies had not really been great with losses against Karlsruhe, Tottenham, Ajax, Olympique Marseille, and Sao Paulo. They had won the Dino Viola Trophy beating Roma 1-0 in a 45 minute match and Inter 3-0 but it was not exactly an exciting start. This was also reflected in the first two games in Serie A where Lazio drew 0-0 with both Foggia and Reggiana. Unsurprisingly, no Beppe Signori, injured, no goals. And no Paul Gascoigne either so the team was lacking ideas.


The first win came in game three against Parma. Ahead with Diego Fuser, the Emiliani had equalised with Gianfranco Zola but a Roberto Cravero penalty gave the Biancocelesti their first victory of the season. The next match was a disastrous 1-0 loss at Cremona. Dismal approach to the match, dismal organisation, dismal result.


But it was time for European football at last, so all the difficulties had to be put to one side. Lazio had to play against Bulgarians Lokomotiv Plovdiv. A crowd of 50,000 turned up and Lazio won 2-0, not without difficulty, with goals from Pierluigi Casiraghi and Cravero. A battle, literally, as the Bulgarians were shown two red cards and Thomas Doll was also sent off. But a good result.


Things did not change in Serie A, however. In the next game another 0-0 this time against Inter at home on September 19, another boring performance. Gazza played but was certainly not in decent physical condition. The next match at Cagliari went even worse and Lazio lost 4-1 but Cagliari’s third goal was comical. A Dely Valdes shot was saved by Luca Marchegiani but very close to the goal line. The linesman had not given the goal but the ref, Cardona, not in an ideal position had decided that the ball had gone over the line. Dino Zoff was furious. He hardly ever spoke out against referees. He did this time.


Mid- week there was the return match in Bulgaria. Another 2-0 thanks to Luca Luzardi and Cravero, first winning European tie for God knows how long, and qualification for round two. A breath of fresh air in the season.


This was followed by another goalless draw in Serie A against Milan away. The low point arrived midweek in Coppa Italia. Lazio played Avellino, a Serie C team, and lost 2-0. That’s all we have to say about that.


On October 17 against Piacenza, Signori was back, but Lazio needed a 90th minute penalty to win. A victory despite losing Cravero and Luzardi, both sent off.


On Wednesday there was the UEFA Cup second round against Boavista at the Olimpico. A difficult game, the Portuguese were a lot stronger than the Bulgarians and Lazio, missing several players, struggled. But in the end a Winter header gave the Biancocelesti the lead. 1-0 enough to go through? Maybe not.


Next game up the derby, maybe not the ideal match at this moment. Lazio fell behind but a Fabrizio Di Mauro goal allowed the Biancocelesti to draw. It was the seventh consecutive draw in a derby.


The return Coppa Italia match, Zoff should have played with forwards and wingers, instead chose a 3-5-2 line-up which, against 11 men on the goal line, was tactically wrong. Result 0-0 and Lazio out of the Coppa Italia.


The bad start needed something that could ignite the team and fans. So Sergio Cragnotti came to the rescue. He had concluded the deal for Alen Boksic with Bernard Tapie for the following season, but he managed to bring the Croatian to Rome earlier than expected and in the autumn transfer window Lazio finalised the signing. Boksic was ready to play. He showed up at the Olimpico to watch the October 31 game against Udinese. Two goals in the first half from Aron Winter and Signori were enough to win 2-1.


During the week there was the second leg of the UEFA Cup against Boavista. Richard Daddy Owobokiri, better known as Ricky, scored twice and Lazio were out of Europe very, very early. Two seasonal objectives out of three already gone, the season so far was a shambles. The only hope was an extra-terrestrial hand.


The Alien, as Boksic would later be called, landed in Naples a week later. Lazio managed to win thanks to Boksic's hugely positive impact and with goals from Beppe Favalli and Signori.


On November 21, Lazio faced Torino in Rome. Just like last year the Biancocelesti went ahead with Boksic’s first goal for the club, and just like last year Torino in the second half equalised and then, just like last year, Angelo Gregucci scored Torino’s winner (last year it had been an own goal). Back to square one.


Next match was another home game, this time against Genoa. Lazio won comfortably with a great performance from Boksic who even if he did not score was fundamental in the 4-0 win. Fuser and a Signori hat-trick pumped new life into the team’s ambitions. It was followed by a 1-1 draw in Bergamo with Roberto Di Matteo’s first goal for the club. Next game Lazio-Juventus. The Biancocelesti played an excellent game and managed to win 3-1 thanks to an own goal, Boksic and Gascoigne. A great and prestigious victory for Lazio. The Biancocelesti showed they had the quality to compete with the best. They had to find more consistency to do so week in week out.


On December 19, Lazio won at Lecce coming from behind. The first half had finished 1-1 thanks to Winter and the Biancocelesti waited until the last second to score their winner with Casiraghi. In the final match of the first half of the season, and first game of the new year, Lazio drew at home against Sampdoria. Doria scored early with Ruud Gullit, Signori equalised with a spot kick.


Lazio were fifth on 21 points, not too far off Milan top on 25 points, and within reach of second place, occupied by Juventus and Sampdoria on 23 points, and Parma, third with 22. All in all, a good position despite the terrible start.


At Foggia without Signori, Lazio crumbled 4-1. Zoff decided to keep Di Matteo on the bench and play with Luzardi as full back. A Huge mistake. Lazio went 2-0 down in the first half. Di Matteo came on in the second half and the Biancocelesti reduced the deficit with Boksic. But Favalli’s sending off gave an extra man to Foggia who scored two more goals.


This unexpected stop brought out more demons for the team, as shown in the dismal first half of the next game at the Olimpico against Reggiana. But then Di Matteo started to shoot from outside the box and his fourth attempt went on target. A Cravero penalty in the beginning of the second half sealed the match. But the negative approach continued at Parma in the next game and the Biancocelesti were beaten 2-0. A completely different story at home, and Lazio won 4-2 against Cremonese, playing very well despite missing Boksic, with goals from Cravero, Casiraghi and a Signori brace. Gazza showed moments of class. The next game was in Milan against Inter. They went behind but in the last five minutes of the game managed to turn it around thanks to a Signori penalty and a Di Matteo goal.


This great win was followed by another. The Biancocelesti destroyed Cagliari with a Signori hat-trick and a marvellous goal from Gascoigne.


These three wins gave Lazio much needed confidence and the next game was against Milan at the Olimpico. But here manager Fabio Capello showed just how great the Rossoneri were defensively. With the back four made up of Mauro Tassotti, Alessandro Costacurta, Franco Baresi and Paolo Maldini, and with Demetrio Albertini and Marcel Desailly just in front of them, Lazio kept hitting a brick wall. They tried and tried, but Milan scored on their first chance and the Biancocelesti could not break down the defence. It was an impressive demonstration of defensive stability.


Game 25 was played at Piacenza. Another away win, again coming from behind thanks to Paolo Negro and Di Matteo. Lazio still fifth and the next game was the derby. Like all the derbies in the 90's the match was, to be honest, a brutal affair. Fifty fouls (the first after just 13 seconds) plus countless others ignored by the referee. If this game had been played today, within the first 30 minutes there would have been at least 10 red cards. Signori scored in the sixth minute but the dense fog of the smoke bombs did not allow the spectators to see much. Lazio held off Roma and Marchegiani saved a penalty. Finally, after seven consecutive draws, the derby had a winner.


At Udine in the next match, Lazio fell behind twice but twice they managed to equalise with Winter and Signori. 2-2 the final result. This is however a match to remember. In the 78th minute a young player debuted in Serie A coming on for Casiraghi: his name was Alessandro Nesta.


Lazio then demolished Napoli 3-0 with goals from Di Mauro, Signori and a Bia own goal. The Biancocelesti were now fourth, just one point behind second placed Juventus and Sampdoria.


Away at Torino on March 27, Lazio almost won. They had gone ahead with Casiraghi but a marvellous goal from Francescoli allowed the Granata to equalise with just three minutes to go. Another 1-1 against Genoa away in the next game (Signori the scorer) but there was drama in the week. Paul Gascoigne broke his leg in training after a tackle with Nesta. A terrible blow for the entire Lazio world. Fortunately none of the ligaments were affected. He would be back next season.


Lazio vs Atalanta on April 10 was a match to remember since Signori scored a hat-trick, all three on free kicks. The two points came in handy too, the table now read: Milan, virtually champions, on 48, Juventus 42, Sampdoria 41, Lazio 40, Parma 38, Torino 33. With three games to go Lazio were in Europe again but could now even eye second place.


The minimum objective reached produced a mental state of appeasement and Lazio were crushed 6-1 by Juventus in the next game. Signori had scored again and was almost certain of being Serie A top scorer for the second consecutive year.


Two games left. The last match at the Olimpico saw Lazio demolish Lecce 3-0 with goals from Winter, Cravero and Boksic. The final game of the season was against Sampdoria in Genoa. A festival of goals and the Biancocelesti managed to win 4-3 thanks to Casiraghi, an own-goal and a Signori brace.

 

So, was it a good season? All in all, one could say yes, there had been an improvement on last year’s position, 4th vs 5th, European football had again been guaranteed for the following year, Signori continued to score. But there had been too many initial difficulties and only with the arrival of Alen Boksic had the team started to play better football. Cragnotti decided that he wanted something more spectacular than the over defensiveness of old Dino. As a consequence his answer was Zdeněk Zeman. The Czech coach had impressed the world with his incredible tactical organisation at Foggia. A 4-3-3 which at times had been irresistible. If he did so well at Foggia, how could Lazio play with Signori, Boksic, Fuser and Winter? So welcome Zeman. But Zoff stayed. Cragnotti had no intention of losing him, and made him President of the club. Lazio would certainly benefit from his experience, both on the field and in the offices.

 

Most appearances all season: Luca Marchegiani & Aron Winter, 40

Most appearances Serie A: Marchegiani & Winter, 34

Top goal scorer overall: Beppe Signori, 23

Top goal scorer Serie A: Signori, 23

Most assists overall: Diego Fuser & Signori, 5

Most assists Serie A: Fuser, 8

Most substituted player overall: Paul Gascoigne, 7

Most substituted player Serie A: Gascoigne, 7

Most sub ins overall: Fabrizio Di Mauro, 9

Most sub ins Serie A: Di Mauro, 9

Most booked player overall: Roberto Bacci & Mauro Bonomi, 11

Most booked player Serie A: Bonomi & Roberto Cravero, 10

Most sending offs overall: Cravero & Luca Luzardi, 2

Most sending offs Serie A: Cravero, 2


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