I am starting to become a bit concerned at how poor my predictions have been so far this season, and this weekend’s Rome Derby is no exception. But I am, however. prepared to give myself something of a mulligan for my most recent failure.
At the end of the preview I wrote last week, I managed to sneak in a little caveat concerning my feeling that Roma would win. Lazio striker Miroslav Klose was ,at the time of writing, an injury doubt for the Derby della Capitale and I felt Lazio’s attack would be lacking without him. But when I saw Klose take to the field, I had a feeling my prognostication would be destined for failure.
Truth be told, I was feeling pretty good about things during the first quarter-hour. Roma began the game playing dangerous and confident possession football, leading to a lovely goal in the 5th minute by Pablo Osvaldo. Slowly but surely, however, the tide began to turn and Lazio worked their way back into the game, a combination of the Biancoceleste raising their level of play and Roma becoming somewhat cautious of relinquishing their lead. Roma took the lead into the halftime break, but it wasn’t long before the wheels fell off.
Six minutes into the second half, Lazio midfielder Christian Brocchi was taken down by Roma defender Simon Kjaer in the penalty box. The contact was soft but Brocchi, of course, made a meal out of it. (No bitterness or anything here…) Kjaer was shown a red card and Hernanes converted the penalty. Considering how well Lazio had been playing up to the point of the penalty, I had little hope of Roma sneaking a winner or holding on for a draw, which I was sure would limit the amount of egg on my face.
Then into the fray stepped the aforementioned Miroslav Klose. For most of the second half, the german looked like a player who probably shouldn’t have passed his late fitness test, or at least like he should have been substituted late on. He was slow, clearly out of gas and lacking concentration by the time the game entered injury time. Then with no more than thirty seconds remaining in the match he got one more chance, controlling a chip with a perfect first touch and expertly passing the ball into the goal. The crowd at the Stadio Olimpico went wild, and we had ourselves a most memorable Rome Derby.
I suppose I can give myself some credit for placing so much importance on the involvement of Klose in this match. While he certainly was not the best player on the pitch, Lazio and Serie A fans alike now know what they can expect from him. Klose will never dazzle and delight with skill, but give him a half-decent chance to score, even when he appears to be lacking fitness and concentration, and he will take it. Even on a bad day, Klose was the difference maker in the Rome Derby.