It had to be a big name to awake a sleeping giant in the women’s game.
Carolina Morace, Italy’s first ever woman to be named in their Hall of Fame of football back in 2015, was called in to hand a lifeline to Lazio women’s team and revive their hopes of a coveted Serie A promotion.
Morace not only came to win, but changed the methodology and that has enabled Lazio to switch into top gear and put them back in the top-flight after eight seasons.
Her legacy with Lazio brought enough responsibility on her shoulders to extend her memories at the club, having already shined as a player and coached the team back in 1998 as well.
When Morace was appointed midway into the Serie B campaign, back in February, Lazio were lying fifth after failing to spark into life in the first part of the season.
After the change in coach, the team took a bit more time to click into gear and after beating leaders Pomigliano 2-0, Morace’s side had finally found the light at the end of the tunnel and regained confidence in themselves.
“When I came in, the promotion was not an easy thing, but team manager Monica Caprini had been telling me that they had the best roster in Serie B,” Morace told the Sunday Times of Malta.
“As soon as I started, I made some amendments including in the number of training sessions during the week and their intensity as well.
“The players started to grow and the Pomigliano victory was a timely turning point in the season for us.”
Morace explained how she did not reshuffle the team tactically as soon she came in, giving time to the team to play with the previous system before starting to leave her mark on them.
“Once I changed, I switched to a 4-3-3 shape that enabled our side to fulfil our potential and once the physical performance was also improving, the results were starting to highlight our growth,” she explained
Since Morace’s appointment, Lazio scored 23 goals and conceded just six, including last week’s goal against Roma which halted their run of five straight clean sheets.
“As soon as the team started to create a lot of chances, I knew we were on a good path because previously we used to dominate the possession but were sterile in the final third,” the Lazio coach explained.
“The defensive line started to improve as well and a result of that is that last week’s goal against Roma was the first in five games that we conceded.”
Morace’s introduction has also boosted Malta duo Emma Lipman and Rachel Cuschieri’s integration into the team as well.
“When I came in, Emma Lipman was sidelined with an injury unfortunately and during that time I had to play with a makeshift backline,” the former Italy international said.
“Now that she came in, I am adapting her into the midfield line as the defensive line is solid and she has already been efficient, for example against Oroboca she was deployed when we were still 0-0, gave a massive helping hand and we managed to win 3-0.
“On the other hand, Rachel Cuschieri is a very good player because she boasts an excellent vision, has a great sense of switching the play and looks very happy at the club since I came over.”
As a coach, Morace had a handful of spells including as coach of Canada, with whom she won the 2011 Concacaf Gold Cup and at Trinidad and Tobago as well.
Asked about the emergence of talent from Malta, the Italy great said that it is no surprise that you find good players where there is proper investment in the game.
“You can find players from anywhere in the world if they are investing in the women’s game,” Morace said.
“For example in Malta, you have Haley Bugeja who is doing very well in Serie A.
“Now, ideally for Haley Bugeja would be to continue to play where she is trusted most and not necessarily where she will gain more money as she is still 16 years old and will have to improve on a lot of aspects, including technically and tactically.”
Lazio’s arrival in Serie A coincides with the introduction of professionalism in Italy’s women’s game in 2022-23 which Morace deems as important for the future of this movement.
In addition, asked about a possible Roma vs Lazio at the Olimpico in the near future, Morace said that she expects it to happen given that other teams have already had their women’s teams playing in important stadia such as Juventus at the Allianz Stadium or Milan at the San Siro.
In her opinion, that’s the only way to move forward and reach the levels of clubs like Chelsea and Barcelona who will square off in tonight’s UEFA Women’s Champions League final.
“While there won’t be a new Lyon if not themselves, I think Barcelona will have the edge in the final because their playing style is excellent and can give Chelsea a very hard time,” the Italy great concluded.