top of page
  • Writer's pictureSimon Basten

February 4, 1996: Lazio Bari 4-3

Updated: Feb 4

Referee show: penalties and errors


A pity. Four penalties plus a number of other errors from the ref ruined what could have been a great match




Source Wikipedia

The season so far


The transfer window started with a bang: Beppe Signori sold to Parma for 25 billion lire plus Dino Baggio and Pippo Inzaghi.


Lazio needed money so when the Parma President Calisto Tanzi, looking to make his team stronger, made the offer, Sergio Cragnotti saw no reason to say no. The rest of the world did however say no. Firstly, the fans who organised a demonstration. 5,000 people took to the streets to show their discontent over the deal. Secondly, the banks said that they would cover if the deal did not go through. Thirdly President Dino Zoff underlined all the technical problems that would have occurred in case the deal went through. Lastly, Beppe Signori said no. So Signori stayed.


In hindsight, Cragnotti was probably right.


As a consequence, in the summer of 1995 Lazio did not sign anybody of particular interest with the exception of future legend Guerino Gottardi. On the other hand, many players waved goodbye: Roberto Cravero, Roberto Bacci, Mauro Bonomi and Paul Gascoigne, all players “chosen” during Dino Zoff’s stint as manager.


The season started very well with two consecutive wins. The highlight of the early part of the season was the crushing of Juventus 4-0 at the end of October. It was a demonstration of Lazio’s full potential and of just how lethal manager’s Zdenek Zeman’s teams could be. Two days later came the other side of the coin: Lazio were eliminated in the UEFA Cup by Olympique Lyonnais. This was an example of how the season panned out. Spectacular games (6-3 against Sampdoria for example) and dismal performances like losing to Vicenza and Piacenza. Lazio fans were used to it by now, but the question was: will we ever win anything with this inconsistency?


One further note is that starting from this season teams could substitute up to three players per match and for the first time players could choose a fixed number for their jersey, between 1 and 99, and keep it for the entire season.


The match: Sunday, February 4, 1996, Stadio Olimpico, Rome


Lazio started the match very well and soon after kick-off Pierluigi Casiraghi hit the woodwork. The Biancocelesti were dominating but Bari scored in the 9th minute. Kennet Andersson headed the ball to Carmine Gautieri who beat the Lazio defence for speed and was supposedly fouled by Luca Marchegiani in the penalty box. Supposedly, because there were big doubts. But the referee, Daniele Tombolini, decided it was a penalty and Igor Protti made no mistake.


The ref must have thought he had made a wrong call because he then opted to compensate with a ridiculous decision: in the 22nd minute Francesco Pedone touched Alen Boksic who went flying to the ground. Penalty for Lazio, Signori made no mistake. 1-1 but two wrongs certainly do not make a right, Mr. Tombolini.


Four minutes later penalty number three. This time it was a clear foul with Marcello Montanari tripping Aron Winter. Signori made it 2-1.


Lazio took control of the match and Boksic was unstoppable. The Croatian had a chance in the 30th minute but it was saved by Fontana. The ball got to Winter who passed it to Signori. 3-1 for Lazio. With these three goals Signori overtook Giorgio Chinaglia and became Lazio's second highest scorer in Serie A, behind Silvio Piola.


In the second half Bari manager Eugenio Fascetti realized that there was a need to speed things up a bit and make more use of Andersson and this is exactly what happened in the 64th minute. Gautieri had no problem in beating Dario Marcolin on the right and crossed for the big Swede. The ball went over Marchegiani’s head and Andersson headed the ball in comfortably.


At the one end, there was Gautieri unstoppable on the right, Protti was driving Alessandro Nesta nuts and all the crosses were Andersson’s. At the other end Boksic, Casiraghi and Signori were creating havoc in the Bari penalty box.


Andersson had a chance via a free kick but it was well saved by the Lazio goalkeeper. Boksic dribbled past a number of Bari players and passed to Casiraghi who hit the woodwork. In the 78th minute the Croatian decided to go solo and made it 4-2 for Lazio.


Tombolini, who was a bit upset that he was no longer the protagonist of the match, decided it was time for another penalty. So in the 81st minute Protti scored his second goal. No idea on why the ref decided it was a penalty.


The ref’s masterpiece came with one minute to go. Casiraghi, unmarked, thirty metres from the goal with the Bari goalkeeper outside the penalty box, decided to shoot. Fontana clearly saved it with his hands. The referee whistled. Foul. Everybody was expecting a red card but Fontana claimed the ball hit his leg, Casiraghi confirmed it, so the ref gave a drop ball.


Lazio managed to keep the slim lead and win a very difficult match. Tombolini should have seriously considered giving up refereeing.


NB. Tombolini is currently a consultant for Italian TV and journalist. An “expert” opinion in all matters concerning refereeing.


Who played for Lazio


Substitutes: F. Mancini, Gottardi

Manager: Zeman


Who played for Bari


Fontana, Mangone (75' Ficini), Sala (46' Ripa), Montanari, Manighetti, Gautieri, Pedone (54' Parente), Ingesson, Gerson, Andersson, Protti.

Substitutes: Bigica, Annoni.

Manager: Fascetti.


Referee: Tombolini


Goals: 8’ Protti (pen), 22’ Signori (pen), 26’ Signori (pen), 30’ Signori, 64’ Andersson, 78’ Boksic, 81’ Protti (pen)



What happened next


Lazio’s inconsistent year continued until March 24 when they lost to Cremonese. At that point the season seemed lost and was very disappointing. But the players found the strength to change things around and Lazio never lost again. Eight games: two draws and six wins. This was enough to take the Biancocelesti to third place and therefore play in Europe for the 1996-97 season for the fourth consecutive year.


Lazio managed to win the derby 1-0 thanks to a pointless and senseless handball by Marco Lanna which gave away a penalty that Signori promptly scored.


Signori was top scorer in Serie A, together with Igor Protti, for the third time in four years. He scored a total of 26 goals that season. Paolo Negro and Diego Fuser had the most appearances (39).


Lazio 1995-96

Competition

Played

Won

Drawn

Lost

Goals Scored

Serie A

34

17

8

9

66

Coppa Italia

4

1

2

1

3

UEFA Cup

4

2

0

2

8

Total

42

20

10

12

77

Top five appearances

Player

Total

Serie A

Coppa Italia

UEFA Cup

Fuser

39

32

4

3

Negro

39

31

4

4

Di Matteo

38

31

3

4

Signori

38

31

4

3

Chamot

37

32

4

1

Winter

37

30

3

4

Top five goal scorers

Player

Total

Serie A

Coppa Italia

UEFA Cup

Signori

26

24

1

1

Casiraghi

18

14

-

4

Winter

7

6

-

1

Fuser

6

6

-

-

Boksic

4

4

-

-


Let's talk about Zdenek Zeman


There is a lot to say on Zdenek Zeman. The manager who never changed his 4-3-3 formation no matter what (he did once with Lazio though), the man from the Czech Republic, the man who felt betrayed by Lazio so he betrayed them by going to Roma, the man behind the Foggia miracle but also the one who launched Ciro Immobile, Alessandro Nesta, Beppe Signori and Pavel Nedved, among many.


Zeman was born in Prague on May 12 1947. He played football in the youth teams of Slavia Prague but he also played ice hockey, water polo and handball. In 1968 he was in Palermo with his uncle Cestmir Vycpalek, former player and ex manager of Juventus, when the Soviet troops invaded Czechoslovakia to repress the Prague Spring. He stayed in Italy, for obvious reasons, and his uncle got him his first jobs as manager in Palermo amateur teams. He became a professional manager in 1979 and started working in the Palermo youth teams .


His first real job was with Licata in Serie C2 in 1983. He did well in his three years there helping them to promotion in Serie C1 in 1984-85. He then went on to manage Foggia for the first time but was fired after the 27th game. In 1987 he was head trainer at Parma in Serie B and despite beating Real Madrid in a pre-season friendly, was let go after only 7 games. In 1988-89 he managed Messina in Serie B, helping them to a season without any particular excitement but launching Salvatore Schillaci's career.


His second stint at Foggia started in 1989-90 and there he created what the Italian media called Zemanlandia (Zeman land) , launching players like Francesco Baiano, Roberto Rambaudi and Beppe Signori. He chose players that could thrive in his 4-3-3 formation. They did not necessarily need to have a footballing pedigree but it was important they could be functional to his tactical vision. Some of the players did not even think they had the characteristics that Zeman thought they had, but he was a keen observer and could see things others could not. Foggia got promoted in his second year and despite the club selling basically all of the players he nurtured, he kept Foggia in Serie A for three consecutive years.


In 1994, Lazio President Sergio Cragnotti, wanting Lazio to be more exciting and have a change in mentality, decided that Zeman was the key and he became Lazio’s manager. One thing however is training a bunch of players that were not that famous and another is telling experienced pros that how they trained in pre-season all these years was completely wrong. Zeman was bound to have problems in trying to change Lazio’s mentality. The signing of Rambaudi and José Chamot plus the presence of Signori, all of them his former players, should have helped matters.


The pre-season training was much tougher than usual. The classic “washout” diet when the players had to eat only potatoes and vegetables in the first few days of training or the running up and down the steps of the stadium. No ball in the first days of training either.


The first year Lazio did very well, despite a few ups and downs, and arrived 2nd, their best position since the 1974 scudetto. They never really competed for anything even though they did reach the semi-finals of Coppa Italia and the quarter finals of the UEFA Cup.


The second year was characterized by the attempted sale of Signori to Parma and the team remained more or less the same as the previous year. More inconsistency during the campionato but a good third place in the end.


In the third year Lazio lost Aron Winter and Alen Boksic and they were replaced by Nedved and Igor Protti. The players seemed tired of following Zeman. Occasionally spectacular, it was difficult to keep the rhythm that the manager wanted and in the end Lazio were unable to deliver the goods. Zeman was sacked after losing to Bologna at home in January and replaced by Dino Zoff.


For Zeman this was a betrayal. Lazio was his big chance. He never imagined that he would be sacked. Some fans saw him sit down and cry after being told by Zoff he was no longer manager. What probably made it worse was the fact that the team started playing well again under Zoff and managed to reach fourth place.


He wanted revenge and Roma President Franco Sensi gave it to him on a silver plate. What better revenge than becoming Roma manager and declaring all of his love for the Giallorossi for years to come. So he did, much to the surprise of the Lazio fans.


His first year at Roma had some positives and some negatives. The positives were that Roma played very well arriving 4th, for the first time in years Roma were placed above Lazio, the players thriving with the new 4-3-3 formation such as Francesco Totti and Cafu, plus the spectacular games. However Roma lost four derbies in one season, the inconsistency that occurred at Lazio repeated itself with Roma. And, let’s face it, Roma got to fourth place only because Lazio, who had demonstrated to be vastly superior to Rome, collapsed towards the end. His second year with Roma was not as good but he still managed to get Roma to fifth place. This was not enough to keep his job.


After managing the two Roman teams Zeman failed to settle down in any club for more than a few months. Three months in Turkey with Fenerbahce, a handful of games with Napoli before accepting the job as manager with Salernitana in Serie B. He reached six place with a bunch of unknowns in the first year but was sacked in the second. At Avellino in 2003-04 things got even worse and they were relegated in C1 at the end of the year.


In 2004-05 he was the manager of Lecce in Serie A. The team was guided to safety and stayed in Serie A but Zeman was not confirmed. In March 2006 he was called to Brescia but it was another failure as was his second stint with Lecce later on in the year.


In June 2008 he became manager of Red Star Belgrade but it did not last very long. His next job came in 2010 when the former owner of Foggia Pasquale Casillo bought the club again and gave Zeman the job as manager. The team did not do too badly in the third tier but below the Czech's expectations and he decided to leave at the end of the season.


In 2011 he joined Pescara. With a bunch of very young players (Ciro Immobile, Marco Verrati and Lorenzo Insigne) the old magic was back and Pescara was promoted in Serie A. His team was spectacular, way too strong for Serie B.


He did so well at Pescara that Roma offered him a contract and he went back to the Giallorossi after 13 years. In all of these years Zeman had always spoken well of Roma, and as a consequence pretty badly about Lazio, and was much loved by the Roma fans. Despite great enthusiasm, Roma did poorly and he was sacked after losing 4-2 at home against Cagliari in February. At least he avoided the infamous loss in the Coppa Italia final against Lazio.


Next up was Cagliari but it was a failure as usual. In 2015-16 he was manager at Lugano and managed to keep the team in the Super League but left at the end of the season. His return to Pescara in 2017 was also a failure.


After three years of inactivity he was called back to Foggia again, in Serie C. The team managed to get to the play-offs but were beaten in the first round. He resigned at the end of the season. From February 2023 he was back at Pescara in Serie C. The club reached the semifinal of the playoffs but were beaten by Delio Rossi's Foggia.


So how can one define Zeman’s career as manager? Many failures and a few successes. His management was successful only when there was a total, almost mystical faith in him. If any player had doubts then he could no longer be successful. Furthermore, his stubbornness over the 4-3-3 formation at all times, no matter what, did not help.


His Lazio teams were spectacular but inconsistent. They could beat the strongest Juventus 4-0 demonstrating to be way more superior but then lose to Vicenza for example. He could never have gone very far in Serie A.


He was on the bench for Lazio for 118 games (86 in Serie A, 16 in Coppa Italia and 16 in the UEFA Cup).


Sources


Comments


Commenting has been turned off.
bottom of page