A dramatic upturn in form has enabled Lazio to haul themselves back into the Serie A title race in recent weeks, with five wins from their last seven league matches cancelling out a sluggish start to life under Stefano Pioli.
Predicted by many to be in the mix for a Champions League place come the start of the campaign, the Biancocelesti encountered some early teething problems under their new boss, suffering two away reverses (Milan and Genoa) and one home defeat (Udinese) in their first four games.
A hat-trick from summer signing Filip Djordjevic, a free transfer capture from Nantes, in a 4-0 win over Palermo in Sicily marked the turning point, with further triumphs over Sassuolo (3-2) and Fiorentina (0-2) propelling Lazio dramatically up the table.
Three successive victories became four when Miroslav Klose climbed off the bench to score the decisive goal in a 2-1 triumph over Torino, a success which pushed them right into the pack of contenders for a European spot in fifth place.
Hellas Verona brought a halt to the Biancocelesti’s winning streak as Luca Toni cancelled out Senad Lulic’s opener, but they wasted little time in regaining their stride, with Klose’s double in a 4-2 home win over Cagliari taking them up into the dizzy heights of third spot.
But it was to be newly-promoted Empoli who took the wheels off Lazio’s charge in the last round of Serie A fixtures, condemning them to a first defeat in seven matches after running out 2-1 winners at the Stadio Castellini.
Pioli, whose men are the division’s second-highest scorers and currently stand two points off third-placed Napoli, will be hoping his team can recapture their recent form when they welcome the Bianconeri to the Olimpico on Saturday evening.