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Monday May 27 2013
Lulic lands Lazio’s Coppa crown

It may have lacked excitement, but Giancarlo Rinaldi reflects on how the Rome derby Coppa Italia Final will be savoured always by one half of the city.

It was meant to be the biggest Rome derby in the history of the game. With a trophy and a place in Europe up for grabs, the stakes could hardly have been higher. But, unfortunately, the match itself turned out to be about as uninspiring as the decision to hire South Korean rapper Psy for the pre-match entertainment.

That should not diminish Lazio’s achievement in lifting the Coppa Italia, especially after their form had been seemingly descending far quicker than their emblematic eagle ever did. Clearly Vlad Petkovic had been keeping a little something up his sleeve in the closing weeks of the Serie A campaign. It was enough to convince most observers that his Biancocelesti troops were worthy victors of a run-of-the-mill final showdown.

On the Roma front the players failed to give Aurelio Andreazzoli the send-off he hoped for. While this year’s Champions League and Europa League titles both went to managers whose days were numbered at their respective clubs, there was to be no such dramatic irony in Italy’s knockout competition. His star performers either could not or would not produce the goods. By the final whistle, the Giallorossi appeared to have cracked like a terracotta tile which had been patched up one time too often.

The 90 minutes in the Olimpico sun were no showpiece for Calcio. Referee Daniele Orsato tried to put down a marker with a yellow card to Cristian Ledesma for the first real foul of the game but it failed to curb the worst excesses of Italian football. The niggling knocks and attempts to get opponents into trouble continued for most of the match. For a game which is supposed to be played with a smile on its face, this one’s demeanour was more of a constant scowl.

Fear of defeat seemed to be the overriding emotion of the evening which is understandable, perhaps, in a match in which some Lazio players had received death threats during the tense build-up. The terror of losing to their eternal rivals seemed to inhibit the flair footballers who might have produced a spark of skill to raise the game from its slumber. Instead, they either failed to ignite or were so well snuffed out that the neutral spectator could have been forgiven for feeling a drowsiness akin to that induced by one pre-match Spritz too many.

Only midway through the second half did the game acquire any of the flow befitting of a tie being played out in the city of the River Tiber. Finally some gaps opened up and there were chances at either end before the boys in blue managed to make the vital incision which would kill off their capital cousins. It had long since been feeling like an encounter in which one goal would be more than sufficient to secure the spoils.

The match-winning effort confirmed the key role of a corner of the Balkans in deciding this Coppa Italia. It proved to be a triumph for Bosnia and Herzegovina with Mostar-born Senad Lulic scoring the winner for his boss - and son of Sarajevo - Petkovic. It will hopefully have made up in some small way for the nation’s failure to participate in this year’s Eurovision Song Contest due to economic reasons.

It allowed Lazio to end the season with a surprise upturn and a place in European football which they had looked to have thrown away. Looking around their squad in recent years, they never appear to possess a particularly thrilling bunch of players and yet they keep getting the job done. Without the ballyhoo and bluster of some of their league rivals, they seem to manage to produce pretty impressive results. They are the Fiat Doblo’ of Calcio, not all that great to look at - but they get you where you want to go.

The Giallorossi, of course, have been the flipside of that analogy for much of this season, like a Ferrari constantly stuck in the garage for repairs. From the outlandish Zdenek Zeman to the more humdrum Andreazzoli, they have hugely underachieved for a side which looked to have a strong and technically gifted array of footballers at its disposal. In the Coppa final - just as they did over the arc of the whole season - they failed to do themselves justice.

And so it was the supporters on the Curva Nord who were celebrating a sixth success in the domestic cup competition rather than Roma stitching on a silver star for a 10th triumph. It was particularly pleasing to see Cristian Brocchi be part of the victory party after suffering a career-ending injury this season. Like every other follower of the Biancocelesti he will no doubt be quite rightly clearing a space in his television cabinet for a DVD of this win in an historic capital derby. The rest of us, however, will be happy enough to have watched it just the once.

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Have your say...
ForzaNapoli, I don't think that any Serie A side will have a defence as poor/naive as Villa's. Napoli are so used to the 352, 343 systems, it will interesting to see how quickly they can adjust to Benitez's system. I don't like the Mascherano rumours, great player but will be very expensive, & Napoli already have decent midfielders. The keeper & defence has to be the focus. After that, another quality striker, & a right winger.
on the 29th May, 2013 at 11:33am
Si Si Si!! Lazio done it!! the first team in Rome prevail....What an atmosphere in the olympico! So good to see Totti cry haha go put your thumb down to the curva now Francesco......
on the 29th May, 2013 at 7:50am
both teams were stifled by fear, but Lazio were the more adventurous. as for tactics and control, it was clear Lazio had the edge for much of the match. shame the game wasn't more exciting.
on the 28th May, 2013 at 9:57pm
@Daniel.I'm pretty excited with his arrival as he is tactically brilliant and I see him thrashing many teams in serie a considering they use 3 man back lines - he versed Aston villa a while ago when they used a 3man back line and beat em 8-0.I feel we ll move away and use a 4-2-3-1 so it'll be fun to see how it goes
on the 28th May, 2013 at 5:28pm
unfortunately, roma just couldn't figure out how to produce a positive season. very talented players at the disposal of who ever was the manager, but still falling short/under the expectation of many. zemans spectator play with no guaranteed results, and a more subdue andreazolli approach that accomplished both neither. yet another crossroads now for roma.
on the 28th May, 2013 at 3:14pm
ForzaNapoli, what do you think of Benitez's appointment? I think that it is a good move. I hope that ADL signs some top quality centre backs, & a better keeper-Consigli? Insigne should now get more playing time & he will be fielded in his favoured wide left position.
on the 28th May, 2013 at 11:01am
Cheers DMC, I didn't know that Pjanic was unavailable. I would have then chosen Florenzi. As for the problems down Roma's left, I would have used one of the 3 central midfielders to give Balzaretti a hand. IMO Roma look much better using a 433, than a 4231. AA has messed around too much with systems & line-ups. Osvaldo was naughty, but I could see where he was coming from.
on the 28th May, 2013 at 10:50am
@Daniel - I also thought Pjanic should have played but AA said after the game that Pjanic was not able to play. While 3 central MF would have been nice, we were also getting gashed down the left side. I agree re: Destro.
on the 27th May, 2013 at 11:11pm
One of the most uninspired coppa italia's I've ever witnessed. Atleast ours last year was very entertaining with full seats
on the 27th May, 2013 at 8:11pm
So AA would not have changed a thing, if he was to play the final again. He should not be retained for this reason alone. He should have used 3 central midfielders, in an effort to get more control; switch Marquinho for Pjanic-placing him alongside DDR & MB; push Totti out to the left; start with Osvaldo. Destro's movement was poor, but he also had little service, & was severely isolated. The referee was aweful,(again), over fussy & card happy.
on the 27th May, 2013 at 9:38am

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