Juventus
    08.08.2015 08:00 - in: Super Cup S

    A look at Lazio

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    Juventus.com examines how the Biancocelesti have been shaping up ahead of Saturday's Italian Super Cup final in Shanghai

    Lazio’s pre-season has somewhat flown under the radar. Having played a handful of routine friendlies across Europe, today’s participation in the Italian Super Cup puts Stefano Pioli’s men under the spotlight for the first time this summer.

    As with Juventus, the Biancolesti’s qualification for Saturday’s showpiece event in Shanghai saw the club decide to play a series of warm-up matches (against Vicenza, Anderlecht, Sigma Olomouc and Mainz 05) before arriving in China a whole week before the main occasion. 

    After registering four reverses in the aforementioned fixtures, admittedly against sides at a more advanced stage in their preparations, combined with a relative lack of transfer hype, one might be forgiven for having expected more activity after last season’s impressive third place in Serie A and Lazio's charge to the Coppa Italia final, where they lost to the Bianconeri in a closely-matched affair in Rome’s Stadio Olimpico.

    What Lazio have achieved in this transfer window, however, has largely served to keep intact a team that functioned so well last year and to breed continuity after undergoing several changes to personnel in 2014. The outright purchase of Dusan Basta represents such a case in point.

    The Serbian right-back, signed on a temporary deal from Udinese last summer, established himself as a key player in Pioli’s side. Fast, industrious and both technically and tactically astute, the Biancolesti’s obligation to sign Basta became all but a formality by the season’s end.

    Likewise the club has tied down centre-back Mauricio to a four-year contract after the Brazilian forged an effective partnership with Stefan de Vrij at the heart of Lazio’s defence during the second half of last season. The 26-year-old originally joined on loan from Sporting Lisbon in January.

    The Biancocelesti's most recent signings have come in the form of Sergej Milinkovic-Savic and Ricardo Kishna from Genk and Ajax respectively. Fetching a combined 13 million euros, the two 22-year-olds are the latest young guns to have arrived in the capital following January’s recruitment of Wesley Hoedt (21) and Ravel Morrison (22).

    This is all testament to Pioli’s belief in talented youth, as proved by last year’s blossoming of Danilo Cataldi and Felipe Anderson. While Kishna will provide competition to Lazio’s forward line, Milinkovic-Savic will do the same to a central midfield that has welcomed back Lucas Biglia from injury.

    It is the Argentine’s return to action and selection for the captaincy that epitomise Lazio’s off-season: downstated, yes, but nevertheless sensible and true to their philosophy in recent years of steady, sustainable growth.

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