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  • Writer's pictureSimon Basten

October 3, 2007: Lazio Real Madrid 2-2, Champions League

Updated: Nov 9, 2023

Prestigious draw


The Biancocelesti hold the mighty Real Madrid to a draw in a match they even could have won




The season so far


In the previous season Lazio had qualified as third for the Champions League preliminary round so all the fans expected President Claudio Lotito to invest a little money in the team. He did not. The big problem was that a new goalkeeper was needed. Lazio had to say goodbye to Angelo Peruzzi, who had decided to quit, and Matteo Sereni, who had refused to stay. A signing had been made, Juan Pablo Carrizo, a promising Argentinian, but due to passport problems he had to be loaned to River Plate. This meant that Lazio now had two keepers: 43-year-old Marco Ballotta and 21-year-old Fernando Muslera who had just arrived. Who would play?


There were four other new arrivals: Aleksandar Kolarov, Lionel Scaloni, Simone Del Nero and Mourad Meghni. Enough? The fans had big doubts.


The first game of the season was the Champions League qualifying round against Dinamo Bucharest. After drawing the first leg 1-1 at home, Lazio managed to win 3-1 in Bucharest and reach the group phase.


In Serie A the Biancocelesti did not have a memorable start. Six games had been played, four draws, a win and a loss. They were eleventh.


The first group game in the Champions League had seen Lazio draw away to Olympiacos. Now they had to face the mighty Real Madrid


The match: Wednesday, October 3, 2007, Stadio Olimpico, Rome


Little Lazio versus mighty Real Madrid. A dream. The Biancocelesti were clearly the underdogs but hoped that the Blancos would underestimate them.


However, Real's strength showed immediately. Free kick on the left, Wesley Sneijder crossed the ball in, Ruud Van Nistelrooy got a foot to it and beat Marco Ballotta.


Lazio were a bit in awe of the Blancos in the first 20 minutes so Madrid decided to control the game also due to the fact that they did not think the Biancocelesti would challenge them much. But suddenly Lazio realised that they could put the Spanish in difficulty and started to play. In the 26th minute Goran Pandev found himself all alone in front of Iker Casillas, thanks to a splendid pass from Tommaso Rocchi, but kicked it wide. In the 31st minute the Spanish goalkeeper was miraculous in saving a Massimo Mutarelli header off a Cristian Ledesma cross. The ball arrived to Gaby Mudingayi who passed to Ledesma. The Argentinian tried to pass to Rocchi but was intercepted, ball to Luciano Zauri who crossed from the left, Guglielmo Stendardo headed the ball to Pandev who just inside the box volleyed the ball in. A fantastic goal.


Real Madrid woke up and in the 37th minute Sergio Ramos after dribbling past Zauri and Mutarelli shot high from a good position.


In the second half Lazio took over control of the match. In the 52nd minute Stefano Mauri had a chance but his shot was parried by Casillas. Five minutes later a marvellous ball from Pandev to Rocchi but the Lazio centre-forward shot wide from a favourable position. In the 61st minute Real scored again. Raul sent Van Nistelrooy all alone in front of Ballotta. No mistake. Lazio 1 Real Madrid 2.


The game seemed over but it was not. In the 75th minute Mudingayi stole a ball in Madrid’s half and passed to Pandev who from outside the box beat Casillas.


Lazio had the chance to win in the 90th minute with Stephen Makinwa but his shot was saved by Casillas.


A brave, gutsy performance from the underdogs. The Biancocelesti could have won but perhaps that would have been asking too much.


Who played for Lazio


Ballotta, Behrami (66’ Scaloni), Stendardo, Cribari, Zauri, Mudingayi, Ledesma, Mutarelli, Mauri (78’ Del Nero), Rocchi (66’ Makinwa), Pandev

Substitutes: Muslera, Kolarov, Meghni, Manfredini

Manager: Rossi


Who played for Real Madrid


Casillas, Sergio Ramos, Cannavaro, Heinze, Marcelo, Diarra, Guti, Sneijder (89' Drenthen), Robben (78' Higuain), Raul (83' Saviola), Van Nistelrooy.

Substitutes: Dudek, Michel Salgado, Gago, Baptista.

Manager: Schuster


Referee: De Bleeckere (Belgium)


Goals: 8’ Van Nistelrooy, 32’ Pandev, 61’ Van Nistelrooy, 75’ Pandev



What happened next


In the Champions League Lazio were eliminated after losing the decisive game against Olympiacos at home. A pity, it was within their reach. But for such an inexperienced side, it was a very brave attempt.


Having to play three competitions with such a limited numbered squad was certainly going to be difficult and Lazio suffered. At the end of the first half of the season Lazio were 14th and very close to the bottom of the table. Not much joy for the fans and a terrible start for Muslera who made quite a number of blunders.


Lazio in the end finished 12th. Not a season to be remembered with the exception of beating Roma in injury time. Lazio did not have the money to be competitive in Champions League and perhaps if they had played the UEFA Cup in the previous season (they qualified but due to Calciopoli they missed out), they could have had that little extra experience necessary that would have been very useful in the management of three competitions.


In November 2007 a Lazio fan, Gabriele Sandri, was shot dead by a policeman. At a service area along the A1 motorway a group of Lazio fans going to Milan to see the game against Inter had a fight with some Juventus supporters. The highway patrol was on the other side of the motorway and could not really see what was happening. Sandri’s friends had nothing to do with the fight and had stopped for refreshments leaving their friend in the car who was having a nap. The police noticed this group of fans going back to the car. Policeman Luigi Spaccarotella took out his gun and fired two shots. His second killed Gabriele. Sandri was a popular DJ and a well-known Lazio fan. It was a terrible day.


Lotito in the end did sign players (Stefan Radu, David Rozenhal, Ousmane Dabo and Rolando Bianchi) but in the January window, too late to change the course of events. This was a missed opportunity.


In Coppa Italia Lazio were eliminated in the semi-final by Inter.


Rocchi was the player with the most appearances (48) and together with Pandev was the top goal scorer.


Lazio 2007-08

Competition

Played

Won

Drawn

Lost

Goals scored

Serie A

38

11

13

14

47

Coppa Italia

6

3

2

1

7

Champions League

8

2

3

3

12

Total

52

16

18

18

66

Top five appearances

Player

Total

Serie A

Coppa Italia

Champions League

Rocchi

48

36

4

8

Pandev

44

32

5

7

Ledesma

43

32

4

7

Cribari

42

31

5

6

Ballotta

39

29

2

8

Top goal scorers

Player

Total

Serie A

Coppa Italia

Champions League

Rocchi

19

14

1

4

Pandev

19

14

-

5

Bianchi

4

4

-

-

Let's talk about Massimo Mutarelli

Massimo Mutarelli was born in Como on January 13, 1978. He started his career in the youth sector of Atalanta and debuted in Serie A on April 28, 1996 in the home game against Lazio lost 3-1. In January 1997 he signed for Genoa. He stayed four and a half years in Liguria, all in Serie B, appearing in a total of 158 games with 11 goals.


In 2002 he moved south and joined Palermo in Serie A. He played there for four years, the first two in Serie B. In his third year Palermo did so well that they qualified for the UEFA Cup reaching the round of 16. They were eventually knocked out by Schalke 04. He proved to be a solid midfielder and attracted the attention of the Biancocelesti.


In 2006 he signed for Lazio. He was an important player for manager Delio Rossi giving equilibrium in a midfield made up of Valon Behrami, Cristian Ledesma, Gaby Mudingayi and Stefano Mauri. He scored his first goal in a derby so it was extra special. In his first year Lazio qualified for the Champions League and he made a great contribution.


After two years he fell out with Rossi and was put out of the team. He took the club to court, won, and in January 2009 joined Bologna as a free agent. In the following season he suffered a bad injury which took him out of football for seven months. At the end of his contract in 2011 he became jobless and had to wait until March 2012 to find another team. He went back to Atalanta but made just one appearance. He retired at the end of the 2011-12 season.


Once he stopped active football he went into management and was coach of the Empoli youth teams from 2014 to 2016. He then became assistant to Gigi Di Biagio Italy’s Under-21 from 2017 to 2019. When Di Biagio became head coach of Italy for a brief period before the arrival of Roberto Mancini, he continued to be his assistant and also followed him to Spal in 2020.


Mutarelli was a very consistent player and is well remembered by the Lazio fans. He played 63 games for the Biancocelesti (48 in Serie A, 8 in Coppa Italia and 7 in Champions League) scoring 5 goals (4 in Serie A and one in Champions League).


Lazio Career

Season

Total appearances (goals)

Serie A

Coppa Italia

Champions League

2006-07

26 (2)

24 (2)

2

-

2007-08

37 (3)

24 (2)

6

7 (1)

Total

63 (5)

48 (4)

8

7 (1)

Sources




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