By Kris Voakes
It was dour and dreary, but that will not matter one bit to Lazio fans. The Biancocelesti claimed the Coppa Italia for the second time in five editions thanks to a victory over their hated city rivals and that is all they cared about as the final whistle blew. Senad Lulic’s goal ensured that a rollercoaster season ended with silverware of which Vladimir Petkovic and his men were very deserving.
With Roma in particular seemingly frozen by their fear of failure against their neighbours, the showpiece occasion gave Italian football very little to shout about. After a triumph of an evening for German football 24 hours earlier at Wembley, this was calcio at its worst for much of the game. But if one team was worthy of the win, it was most certainly Lazio.
While Aurelio Andreazzoli sent his side out to stifle, the men in blue at least looked to make the most of the little space on offer, and Antonio Candreva’s wing play always appeared the most likely catalyst for a breakthrough. The Italian got in behind Roma’s cover in the 70th minute to fire in a cross which Bogdan Lobont could only palm to Senad Lulic, who prodded home to clinch the trophy.
|FINAL FACTS | Roma 0-1 Lazio
For Petkovic it was the fitting, if not thrilling, climax to a debut season with Lazio that offered so much at so many turns but had threatened to end with absolutely nothing to show for their endeavours. After seemingly being a shoo-in for a Champions League place around the halfway stage of the campaign, the Biancocelesti fell apart in the league and saw Fenerbahce deny them progress into the last four of the Europa League. A final defeat would almost have been too harsh given how good they have been for so long in 2012-13.
Over at Roma it has been a constant battle to keep heads above water. Before the final, Giallorossi supporters had been making plans for a protest such has been the disappointment of their campaign. By full-time, they will have been infinitely more concerned about the direction the club is taking. With sporting director Franco Baldini taking the blame for a season which delivered so little, Andreazzoli was almost given a blank canvas from which to work in the final. But instead, Roma looked tactically stunted and physically restrained.
More than anything, the final summed up the current balance in the capital. Lazio are not quite good enough to call themselves one of the top clubs in the country, but have talents in the likes of Anderson Hernanes, Miroslav Klose and Antonio Candreva who can on their day carry the side to a higher plain. Over at Trigoria, there is a sense of disorganisation about the attempt to take the club forward to any great degree under the American ownership that was meant to return Roma to the top of Italian football.
Lazio are back in Europe while Roma are back in the mire, and given the two clubs’ plights this term, the final result was probably the right one. Progress under Petkovic can continue both at home and on the continent, while Roma’s rethink can be carried out without thoughts being distracted by the pretence of a Europa League campaign to come. The Giallorossi badly need some direction, and their performance over the 90 forgettable minutes on Sunday night only amplified the sounds of delusion from the Curva Sud.
Meanwhile, the bragging rights deservedly go to Formello. Lazio’s right to call themselves the pride of Rome cannot be doubted.