Lazio 1-0 Nice
November 2, 2017
When it doesn’t want to happen, it doesn’t happen. After having put in an exemplary team performance against Lazio, OGC Nice conceded a goal in added time, an own goal from Le Marchand. So infuriating (0-1).
At the heart of a difficult spiral, the Gym needed to be solid for 95 minutes to avoid defeat. And it so nearly did, up until the 91st minute and an involuntary deflection from big Max - who had been so good throughout - from the last corner of the match.
Before that, the squad reassured itself through impact, was unshaken with the ball at their feet. Were seen with ambition, and above all, determination. At the heart of a balanced match, the Gym demonstrated tactical rigour and seriousness. The 4-2-3-1 set-up by the coach - with Sneijder behind Plea up-front and Balotelli on the bench - brought coherence and, individually, each Aiglon brought its own contribution to a very tidy team performance. The only thing lacking, a touch of inspiration with the final touch to be able to really cause a surprise. Then, it lacked that bit of luck which escapes sides who are in difficulty and smiles on those in full form.
During the first 45 minutes, the Red an Blacks controlled the ball for most of the half (55% of possession). At the tip, Wesley Sneijder directed and ensured the movement of the ball. In the middle, the Mendy – Koziello duo allowed them to be present in the battle; at the back, Dante and Le Marchand brought assertiveness and desire.
Against a changed Roman side, the Gym even created several opportunities. Well played in by Walter in a move that was started by Sneijder, Lees-Melou let rip but missed the target (12’). He was played in once again, a bit later, from a long ball from Dante which he hit first time on the volley, but he still couldn’t find the target (23’).
Used to leaving the opposition with the ball and then hurting it on the break, Lazio remained loyal to itself. Very deep (in the first half), very compact and probing when they came out from the back. Offensively, the Nani-Caicedo duo was cancelled out well by the Nice back four and Lazio depended on the pace of Lukaku to cause any danger. The Belgian international, starting on the left of a 3-5-2, used his lightning legs. One of his runs lead to a corner from which one of the most dangerous opportunities of the game resulted. From the delivery, a Nice head flicked the ball away, Marusic picked up the ball 30 metres out and his shot was deflected just past the post by Le Marchand’s leg. Solid between the sticks, attentive with the balls over the top and a cross from Nani, Benitez watched the ball just skim past the woodwork (30’).
Each side in its own style, the two sides deservedly left the pitch on level terms after the first 45 minutes.
Lazio tried to put their foot on the accelerator during the first 10 minutes of the second half. The Gym held on throughout without being overly troubled. Very quickly, the team played a bit further up the pitch and Rémi Walter sent shivers down our spines as he powerfully shot with his left after a corner, but unfortunately, it just went wide of the post (59'). Then Sneijder “shot” from distance and Strakosha parried the shot off for a corner (61').
Despite these two attempts, the Romans began to push with even more vigour. Jallet blocked a cross from Patric with his elbow in his own box (62'). Mr Manzano let play go on, the Olimpico rumbled. Lazio became more daring, the Niçois seemed impermeable. Unshakable. Even better, they wanted to go and look for the winner in the final fifteen minutes. Arnaud Lusamba brought energy to the game. Always looking mobile and generous, Alassane Plea popped up at the near post but his strike was blocked by an Italian leg (77').
Lucien Favre pulled out his joker card, Super Mario, to go and get more than a point on the poor Roman pitch.
His men come away without even a point, but with the impression that they are on the right path.
And they need to beat Zulte-Waregem - who beat Vitesse 2-0 - at the Allianz to be able to get a taste of the next round of the competition.
Rome, Stadio Olimpico
Lazio Rome 1-0 OGC Nice (0-0 half-time)
Matchday 4 of the Europa League- 02/11/2017
Approx. 20000 supporters
Referee: Jesus Gil Manzano
Goals: Le Marchand (91' o.g.) for Lazio.
Bookings: Lucas Leiva (76') for Lazio.
Lazio: Strakosha - Patric, De Vrij (cap), L. Felipe - Marusic, Murgia (Lulic 60'), Lucas Leiva, L. Alberto, Lukaku (Parolo 74') - Nani (Milinkovic 60'), Caicedo.
OGC Nice: Benitez - Souquet, Dante (cap), Le Marchand, Jallet - Walter, Koziello (Tameze 85'), Mendy, Lees-Melou (Balotelli 80') - Sneijder (Lusamba 65'), Plea.