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  • Writer's pictureLazio Stories

2008-09: Bad season but Coppa Italia triumph

Official SS Lazio photo

The previous season had been disappointing. Lazio had played in the group stage of the Champions League but were eliminated despite a very brave performance, considering the limits the squad had. The team was not built to be able to cope, both psychologically and physically, in the Champions League, Serie A plus Coppa Italia, too little depth in the squad and not a CL team quality wise. Lazio arrived 12th. The fans were not happy and manager Delio Rossi's job was at risk. But President Claudio Lotito confirmed him and with the new signings (finally) the Biancocelesti looked as if they could do well. The objective was a place in Europe for 2009-10.

Lazio started amazingly well and after five games were leading in Serie A. It was short lived. Defeats in the 7th (Bologna) and 8th (Napoli) games put the Biancocelesti down to 7th place. Then three consecutive victories (Chievo, Catania and Siena) brought them back up to fourth but then just two points in five games made us realise that this would be an umpteenth transitional year. In the second half of the season Lazio only won 6 games, drew one and lost all the rest , ending up in a disappointing 10th place.

What had gone wrong? The general feeling was that Delio Rossi had come to the end of his cycle as manager. He had been at Lazio for four years and done rather well if one considers the limited possibilities the club had. But it looked as if the team and manager were no longer on the same wavelength. Furthermore, there was a goalkeeper problem. Juan Pablo Carrizo was not the great goalie one thought he could be. He played the first half of the season and was then replaced by Fernando Muslera. New and better players were needed. Some did arrive, Mauro Zarate for example, but more had to arrive if Lazio wanted to be competitive.

The highlight of the year was a 4-2 win in the derby. Lazio had never scored more than three goals against Roma so this was a first.

We said Europe was the objective and in the end Lazio did qualify for the Europa League. Despite playing badly in campionato, in Coppa Italia it was a different story altogether.

Coppa Italia triumph

Lazio opened the Coppa Italia campaign at the end of August in the third round by beating, not without initial difficulty, Benevento, who were playing in Serie C. A Goran Pandev double plus goals from Mourad Meghni, Christian Manfredini and an own goal secured access to the next round.

In October Lazio had to face Atalanta and won comfortably 2-0 (Cristian Ledesma and Pandev), setting up a fifth round against Milan in San Siro. A difficult game where Lazio played very well and had a number of chances before Andriy Shevchenko scored his umpteenth goal against his favourite victim. All seemed lost but the Biancocelesti managed to equalise in the dying minutes thanks to a Zarate penalty. In the second minute of extra time Pandev was lethal and Lazio went on to the quarterfinals against Torino, this time at home.

In a two-faced game, the Biancocelesti fell behind in the first half, but came back in the second and scored three goals (again Pandev plus Stefano Mauri and Tommaso Rocchi).

In the semifinal Lazio had to play against Juventus, this time over two games. In the first at the Olimpico, Juventus were the obvious favourites and went one up in the first half. But the Biancocelesti put up a good fight and created a number of unexpected headaches for the Bianconeri. Pandev equalised and Rocchi gave Lazio the advantage for the return match in Turin. In the return leg Juventus came into the match not fully focused and Lazio took advantage, scoring with Zarate first and Aleksandar Kolarov in the second half. At that point the contest was over. Juventus would have had to score four goals. They managed one.

Lazio were in the final. They faced Sampdoria who, after beating Inter 3-0 at home, in the return match managed to keep the Nerazzurri's onslaught to a minimum and only lost 1-0.

The final was played at the Olimpico in front of a capacity crowd and in the presence of Italian President Giorgio Napolitano. Zarate gave Lazio the lead early on but Giampaolo Pazzini equalised on the half hour. There were chances for both teams, but the game ended 1-1. The result did not change in extra time, so the 2008-09 Coppa Italia was to be decided on a penalty shootout.

Muslera saved the first penalty and it looked as if Lazio had won it. But Rocchi hit the woodwork with the second and the teams were still level after the first five. After Muslera saved Hugo Campagnaro’s spot kick, Ousmane Dabo then gave Lazio their fifth Coppa Italia and a European Cup qualification for the 2009-10 season.

A magnificent victory and the first silverware for President Lotito.

Most minutes played overall: Cristian Ledesma, 3916

Most minutes played Serie A: Ledesma, 3194

Most appearances all season: Ledesma and Mauro Zarate, 41

Most appearances Serie A: Zarate 36

Top goal scorer overall: Zarate, 16

Top goal scorer Serie A: Zarate, 13

More assists overall: Zarate, 7

More assists Serie A: Zarate, 7

Most substituted player overall: Cristian Brocchi, 16

Most substituted player Serie A: Brocchi and Ousman Dabo 13

Most sub ins overall: Pasquale Foggia, 15

Most sub ins Serie A: Foggia 14

Most booked player overall: Brocchi and Sebastiano Siviglia, 10

Most booked player Serie A: Brocchi, 10


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