Wednesday, 10 October 2012

Can Lazio finish in the top three?

15 points from 21 represents a very good start for the Biancocelesti and they currently occupy the third and final Champions League spot in the Serie A table; however with 31 games left to play, can they really qualify for Europe's elite club competition for the first time since 2007?

Every team needs a few individual match winners and Lazio have a handful they can call upon when needed to influence those close games, which could be the difference between a third or another fourth placed finish.

The Brazilian midfielder Hernanes has been quality so far this campaign for Lazio and brings goals to the party as well as being the main source of creativity in the middle of the park.

Despite being 34, Miroslav Klose is still banging the goals in, with five in just seven Serie A games this season. And if the German international can get 20 league goals, then Lazio have a real chance of finishing third.
The returning Mario Zarate offers something different, and if he can find the form that made Inter bring him in on loan last year, then he will play a huge part in Lazio's Champions League push.

Another reason why third is certainly up for grabs is the fact Champions League mainstays in Inter and AC Milan are no longer a certainty to qualify, with the latter making a horrible start to their Serie A campaign, which when coincided with the fact they've lost not only quality but experienced players in the last transfer window, the Rossenari's top three spot is up for grabs.

Udinese finished 3rd last year; however have had another selling summer and have won just once in seven games this campaign, giving Lazio a nine point buffer over the side that qualified for the Champions League last year.

Like I touched upon, two of the three Champions League qualifiers from last year have seen their squad's heavily weakened whilst Lazio's has been improved in a quiet transfer window for the club, with only one notable departure.

Lazio's first eleven is more then capable of finishing in the top three; however whether they've the strength in depth to challenge for third is questionable! For me the likes of Roma, Napoli and even Fiorentina all have stronger looking benches then Vladimir Petkovic's side.

Considering the fact all of Lazio's five league win's have all been sown up on before the hour mark, means that they've not had anyone to bring on to change the game, which was highly evident in their home defeat to Genoa.

Aside from Napoli away from home, Lazio's start has been a favorable one (Facing just two of last season's top 10 in Napoli and Chievo), meaning they've still to play many of Italy's big guns.

This isn't the first time Lazio have found themselves within a realistic chance of a top three spot, and in the previous two campaigns they've blown good opportunities to do so.

For two consecutive seasons the Biancazzurri lost six of their last 12 games, in doing so missing the chance to overhaul Udinese for the final Champions league spot on both occasions.

Like in those two seasons, Lazio have started the season in brilliant fashion, and you'd think they will have learnt from their previous mistakes and will be more competitive come the tail end of the season.

Napoli have started incredibly well and probably will secure Champions League football, meaning the likes of Inter, AC Milan, Roma and even Fiorentina will be left to fight it out for the one remaining spot along with the Biancocelesti.

You'd only really say that champions Juventus are realistically secure of a top three spot, meaning Petkovic's side have an incredible chance of finishing in the top three this season.

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