It feels so strange to see Lazio just a couple points from the relegation zone, they won the Serie A in the 1999/2000 season, and to see them possibly relegated just ten years later seems very strange. Imagine Manchester United fighting relegation, it’s just not right. Meanwhile Bari are really pushing their limits this year, their first in Serie A, and with ten more matches to play, they’re just two points from the magical 40 points needed to survive. One of these two teams are two points from relegation, while the other is two from salvation, and the roles are inverted, but why is Lazio suffering so much this year, and why is Bari succeeding so much?
Bari seemed to be in a bit of trouble when they came up to the Serie A after coming first in the Serie B, their former coach Antonio Conte had left them in hopes of becoming Juventus coach, leaving the club without a manager. Eventually Giampiero Ventura was hired and he has inspired Bari to play fantastic football, extremely attacking one touch football stunned powerful Serie A teams that thought Bari would be a walk in the park. Their first match in the Serie A was a great 1-1 draw against the former champions Inter Milan, and from then on they’ve went on to push high up the mid-table regions. Only six points away from the Europa League, Bari have basically replaced Lazio, becoming a team that nobody wants to face.
Lazio on the other hand seemed ready to push for another great season, they reached the Europa League last season and they won the Coppa Italia. Everything was looking great, young prospects like Zarate, Kolarov, and Muslera littered the squad, and plenty of experienced players like Brocchi, Cruz, and Rocchi could guide the youngsters to great heights. But European football took it’s toll on the team, even if they went out in the group stages, they had to compete with powerful teams like Villareal and Salzburg, leaving the squad tired for crucial Serie A matches. Not only did they have this problem, but their president Claudio Lotito decided to freeze probably their two most influential players, Pandev and Ledesma, not allowing the two to play with the team because they didn’t want to renew with the club. Because of all this, Lazio have only 5 wins the entire season, and for them to reach the salvation number of 40 points, they would have to scrounge out 14 points in 10 matches, a difficult task considering their form. Not only this, but the teams below them seem to be waking up, Livorno got an impressive 3-3 against Roma, and Siena came back from three down to draw 3-3 away against Juventus. Lazio will be among the relegation contenders, and I won’t be surprised to see them compete in Serie B next season.
It’s interesting the way roles have been reversed, Lazio used to be one of the hardest matches in the season for a team, and now they are weak and show little competitive spirit. Meanwhile Bari seemed to be lost with their manager switch, and instead teams fear facing the quick attacking style of Giampiero Ventura’s team. And while Bari fans will be celebrating a possible debut in Europe next season, it seems very possible that Lazio fans will be going to Serie B matches.