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  • Writer's pictureSimon Basten

February 23, 2014: Lazio Sassuolo 3-2

Updated: Feb 23

Super Radu


A great performance from Stefan Radu helped beat Sassuolo in a very difficult moment for Lazio




The season so far


Optimism was high at the start of the 2013-14 season thanks to the great victory in Coppa Italia against Roma on May 26, 2013. The celebrations lasted the whole summer and fans were over the moon.


The summer transfer window was not exactly eye opening, but two important signings were made: Lucas Biglia, Argentinian midfielder from Anderlecht, and Felipe Anderson, Brazilian forward that Lazio believed could be one of the best players the Biancocelesti had ever signed. Other minor signings were Etrit Berisha, goalkeeper, Diego Novaretti, defender and Brayan Perea, forward.


However, the real focus of the summer transfers was the missed deal to sign the Turkish forward Burak Yilmaz from Galatasaray. Lazio had already tried in 2012 but the negotiations collapsed at the last minute because the Turkish club wanted a very high percentage on the future sale of the player. The talks re-opened in 2013 and all was agreed. Yilmaz was in Rome waiting to sign the contract. But at the last minute of the last hour of the mercato, his agent asked for a €2 million commission to be paid on the signing of the contract and not spread over its length, as done normally. President Claudio Lotito refused to be blackmailed and the deal fell through.


The fans were furious. The anti-Lotito sentiment, which had faded after the historic win against Roma, came back with all of its venom. It would marr the entire season.


2013-14 had not started too well anyway as Lazio were thrashed in the Super Coppa by Juventus 4-0 with three goals in four minutes. The defence had been one of the strong points of the team, now it was a liability. At the end of the first half of the season Lazio were ninth, miles away from everything.


Lazio had also been kicked out of the Coppa Italia in the quarter-finals by Napoli and the Europa League adventure saw Lazio go through to the knockout phase but in the first match they had lost at home against Bulgarian club Ludogorets Razgrad 1-0.


Manager Vladimir Pectovic was unable to steer the Lazio ship in the right direction. Not only. He signed a contract to be the new Head Trainer of the Swiss national team at the end of his deal with Lazio in 2014. Lotito took this opportunity to sack him before Christmas and call back Edy Reja to try to get Lazio back on course.


The change seemed to solve things. Lazio were back and in the first six games under Reja came 12 points which included beating Inter and drawing against Roma. But the match before the home game against Sassuolo saw Lazio fall against Catania. What could the fans expect?


What was being prepared for the game was a massive anti-Lotito demonstration. Bad results, no Yilmaz and the selling of Hernanes to Inter in the last minutes of the winter transfer window only increased fan frustration.


The match: Sunday, February 23, 2014, Stadio Olimpico, Rome


The game was played in a surreal atmosphere with Lotito being continuously insulted by the fans. On the pitch not much happened until the 24th minute. Cristian Ledesma saw Senad Lulic running towards the penalty box on the left. Long pass that reached the Lazio hero of heroes who volleyed the ball to the centre of the box towards Antonio Candreva who left it for Miroslav Klose. The German international, instead of finding the goal, found defender Lorenzo Ariaudo.


In the 38th minute Ledesma to Stefan Radu. The Romanian took a few steps forward and gave the ball a mighty whack. Impossible to save, 1-0 for Lazio. The fans' insults towards Lotito stopped. Briefly.


In the second half, Lazio had a chance to double in the 57th minute. A Candreva cross was cleared by the Sassuolo defence, ball to Radu who once again tried his chances from outside the box. His terrible shot became an assist for Klose but the "goal fisher" put it wide.


At this point Sassuolo woke up and started to become dangerous. In the 66th minute Alessandro Longhi crossed from the left, the ball reached Domenico Berardi whose acrobatic shot went high. In the 72nd minute Berardi to Francesco Manganelli in the box, low cross to the centre for Sergio Floccari who anticipated Michael Ciani and put the ball past Berisha.


Two minutes later Lazio were back in front. Ziegler fumbled, Tata Gonzalez was quick to pass to Klose, 2-1 for Lazio. Five minutes later, free kick for Sassuolo. Perfect shot from Floro Flores and it was 2-2.


Game over? No. In the 83rd minute, perfect cross from Radu on the left for Candreva but Paolo Cannavaro got an unfortunate touch and the ball went in.


Three very important points for Lazio


Who played for Lazio


Manager: Reja


Who played for Sassuolo


Pegolo, Mendes, Cannavaro, Ariaudo, Rosi, Chibsah (46' Ziegler, 75' Floro Flores), Magnanelli, Biondini, Longhi, Zaza (61' Berardi), Floccari.

Substitutes: Pomini, Pucino, Antei, Bianco, Gazzola, Marrone, Missiroli, Sansone, Farias.

Manager: Malesani.


Referee: Giacomelli


Goals: 37’ Radu, 72’ Floccari, 74’ Klose, 79’ Floro Flores, 83’ Cannavaro (og)



What happened next


Not even Reja could lead Lazio to a European Cup qualification.


In Europa League, two Marchetti fumbles threw the qualification down the drain against Ludogorets Razgrad. In Serie A, after the game against Sampdoria with six games to go, Lazio were just two points away from a European qualification. But two decisive draws, both 3-3, against Torino and Verona put an end to any hopes.


Too many celebrations and too many players not performing as well as they should made any type of comeback impossible. The anti-Lotito climate certainly did not help matters.


Antonio Candreva was the player with most appearances (44) and with the most goals (12).


Lazio 2013-14

Competition

Played

Won

Drawn

Lost

Goals scored

Serie A

38

15

11

12

54

Coppa Italia

2

1

-

1

2

Europa League

8

3

4

1

11

Super Coppa

1

-

-

1

-

Total

49

19

15

15

67

Top five appearances

Player

Total

Serie A

Coppa Italia

Europa League

Super Coppa

Candreva

44

37

1

5

1

Onazi

40

29

2

8

1

Lulic

37

30

1

5

1

Keita Balde

35

25

2

8

-

Ledesma

34

27

1

5

1

Top five goal scorers

Player

Total

Serie A

Coppa Italia

Europa League

Candreva

12

12

-

-

Klose

8

7

-

1

Lulic

7

7

-

-

Keita Balde

6

5

-

1

Perea

5

1

2

1

Let's talk about Stefan Radu



Stefan Radu, “the Boss”, is the player who has more appearances for Lazio than any other in the history of the club: 427.


Born in Bucharest on October 22 1986, he began to play football in the youth teams of Dinamo Bucharest. He worked his way up the ladder and made his professional debut at just 17. He became a regular first choice player for the team and helped them win a Romanian Cup, a Romanian Super Cup and a championship.


His long adventure with Lazio started in January 2008 and he was immediately thrown in the deep end in a game against Fiorentina in Coppa Italia.


The numbers for Stefan Radu speak for themselves: 427 appearances (349 in Serie A, 25 in Coppa Italia, 3 in Champions League, 46 in Europa League and four Super Coppa Finals), 8 goals (5 in Serie A, 2 in Coppa Italia and one in Europa League) and six trophies (Coppa Italia 2008-09, 2012-13 and 2018-19, Super Coppa 2009, 2017 and 2019).


Even though he prefers playing as a central defender, for Lazio he has been used mainly as left back. He can cross the ball very well, has a good header and a great shot (which he should try more often). His only fault, and that is probably why he has not played as central defender, is that he does lack those eyes in the back of the head that many good defenders have. He has become one of the more Laziali, the first player newcomers have to go to when they arrive at the club. He is the one that explains what Lazio is all about and that is why he is called the Boss.


He is rather shy and does not speak to the media much, but he is certainly not shy on the pitch or in the changing rooms.


He has played 14 times for his country, not a lot considering how important he could have been for the national team, but he had a number of disagreements with the selectors and in 2013 he decided he would be no longer available to play for Romania. Over the years there have been many attempts to try to get him back, but they have always failed to convince him.


In the last home game of the 2022-23 season, Radu retired. At the end of the match, Lazio’s 2013 players and the current squad stood in the centre of the pitch and Radu said goodbye to the fans.



“Lazio fans, thank you all for being present on this very important day for me. I have spent more than 15 years at your side. I say "by your side" because on the pitch, when I entered, I had the same soul as you: the soul of the Lazio fan. With this shirt I lived my life as a footballer, in this stadium I experienced unique moments, difficult days and immense joys, like all of you. Lazio are a family and this pitch is like home for me. I thank you because in victory but also in defeat, I never felt alone. On this journey we have always walked together. I am sure that my attachment to the Biancocelesti colours will never end. It will give me the strength to carry on in life with the same determination I've always had on the pitch. I sincerely thank President Lotito and the club because they allowed me to make this great dream come true: being able to say goodbye to football wearing this jersey. You took me in when I was little more than a boy. Here I grew up as a man and as a footballer. I thank my wife Alexandra and my sons Edoardo and Alessia, because I have never felt the absence of their support and their love. Thanks to all my teammates and technical staff over the years who allowed me to have an important role on the pitch and in the changing room. And this for me represents a great honour, even before being a great responsibility. When I wore the Biancoceleste jersey I did it with all my heart and passion. Now I know what it's like to be one of you. I know what it means to belong to the great Lazio family. And bonded with it forever. You can stop playing football but you can't stop being a Lazio fan! Thank you all, your Boss loves you”.


Thank you Stefan.


Lazio career

Season

Toal played (goals)

Serie A

Coppa Italia

Champions League

Europa League

Super Coppa

Jan Jun 2008

13

11

2

-

-

-

2008-09

19

19

-

-

-

-

2009-10

36

28

2

-

6

-

2010-11

27

26

1

-

-

-

2011-12

26

21

-

-

5

-

2012-13

36 (3)

23 (1)

4 (1)

-

9 (1)

-

2013-14

32 (1)

25 (1)

1

-

5

1

2014-15

29 (1)

24

5 (1)

-

-

-

2015-16

25

13

2

1

8

1

2016-17

31 (2)

29 (2)

2

-

-

-

2017-18

41

31

3

-

6

1

2018-19

33

28

2

-

3

-

2019-20

31 (1)

29 (1)

1

-

-

1

2020-21

33

31

-

2

-

-

2021-22

12

10

-

-

2

-

2022-23

3

1

-

-

2

-

Total

427 (8)

349 (5)

25 (2)

3

46 (1)

4

Sources


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