I.n Rome many are convinced that looking too far into the future brings particular misfortune. The training of Lazio Rome on Wednesday morning is still worth a fleeting thought. On the day after major victories, the Serie A club’s fan base gathers at the hermetically sealed training center in Formello outside the city gates.
Miroslav Klose knows these ceremonies, the former Lazio striker (2011 to 2016) and today’s assistant to Bayern coach Hansi Flick were honored by the Lazio-Tifosi anthems when he scored decisive goals in the local derby against AS Roma. It is impossible to imagine what could be going on on Wednesday morning after the game against FC Bayern in Formello (9 p.m. in the FAZ live ticker for the Champions League and on Sky), despite all the assembly restrictions due to Corona.
Season highlight of the Romans
The first leg in the Champions League round of 16 this Tuesday against the defending champion and World Cup winner is the highlight of the season for the light blue part of the football-loving Romans. There is even talk of the dream of a whole generation and the previous “highlight in the Lotito era”. Claudio Lotito is the controversial cleaning contractor and functionary who has been running the capital city club since 2004 after the near bankruptcy and managed to defer the enormous club debt for 23 years.
“I took over this team at their funeral and put them in an irreversible coma,” Lotito said at the time. He hope to be resuscitated. Nobody wants to claim that the fifth in the Serie A table has played in a coma for the past few years, on the contrary. But one rarely felt as lively as now at Lazio.
On the Tuesday before the game, the excited Lazio-Tifosi, who still deeply adore the Bayern assistant coach Klose, meet at the dingy Eni gas station in Formello for their “appointment with history”. At this place of fossil energy transmission, the appendix wants to stimulate the team of trainer Simone Inzaghi on their trip to the deserted Roman Stadio Olimpico it says in the fan communiqué.
“Glucose of Enthusiasm”
It’s been 20 years since the Romans survived the group stage in the Champions League. The excitement about this unique opportunity has also spread to the capital’s press. “La Repubblica” fantasized about the “glucose of enthusiasm”, a Lazio victory this Tuesday evening would be “like the icing on a cake that has been prepared for years”.
That with the years of preparation of Lazios for the game on Tuesday is correct in a certain way. Because the former Bundesliga professional and Lazio sports director Igli Tare systematically brought the capital city club into close contact with the top Serie A clubs with comparatively little money. The striker Ciro Immobile, who once failed at Borussia Dortmund, is the best example of the Alban’s targeted transfers. Immobile is playing successfully for the fifth year in Rome and has already scored 19 goals this season.
Of course, the Lazio attachment did not escape the small crisis of the World Cup winners FC Bayern, especially since Idol Klose expressly confirmed it in an interview with “Gazzetta dello Sport”. “We’re not particularly fresh at the moment, and our opponents are studying us and outsmarting us with high balls in the back of the defense,” said the 42-year-old. Two Lazio players are particularly predestined for these dangerous passes, the Spanish playmaker Luis Alberto and the Serbian Sergej Milinkovic-Savic.
Together with the experienced Brazilian Lucas Leiva, Alberto and the 25-year-old Milinkovic-Savic form the Lazio showpiece in midfield. Coach Inzaghi uses a 3-5-2 system in which everything revolves around the movements of the three central players. Leiva forms the filter and distributor of the ball in front of the defense, the highly talented Milinkovic-Savic has recently been increasingly serving his colleagues with defensive work.
The 28-year-old Alberto, who also scored the goal of the day in the 1-0 win over Sampdoria Genoa at the weekend in Serie A, a “jewel” according to the “Gazzetta dello Sport”, is particularly able to shine. Alberto is nicknamed “il mago”, the magician, his appearances were brimming with irresistible casualness and a feeling for the ball that only a few reserved.
In Rome one speaks of a “mentality leap” of the team, which is now ripe for tasks like this. “It is the night that you have been waiting for since childhood,” wrote the “Corriere della Sera” about the anticipation of the Lazio players. Luis Alberto confirmed: “The main thing is to have fun, because this is a childhood dream.” The Bayern co-trainer was forced to take on the new position to dampen Roman anticipation. “Lazio is dangerous,” said Miroslav Klose, “but let’s be clear: if we concentrate on our work, the difference between Bayern and Lazio will be clearly visible.”