After Monday’s 4-0 thrashing of top three rivals Fiorentina, Lazio are now in the last Champions League spot behind Juventus and eternal rivals Roma. Unlike the Spanish La Liga, the German Bundesliga and the English Premier League it’s the top THREE not four Italian clubs that make it to the Champions League.
The Biancoceleste have a fight on their hands staving off the challenge of the more fancied Napoli and Fiorentina but just being in the reckoning for a Champions League spot is more than most critics expected a couple of months ago.
A current run of five unbeaten league games, including four victories, has been possible thanks to clinical finishing and a hard-working midfield unit. In attack, Felipe Anderson and Antonio Candreva have been especially singled out for praise with the former being recently linked to a Premier League move.
However, one can’t help but admire the efforts of fan favourite and German legend Miroslav Klose. The Poland-born striker keeps bagging goals at the ripe old age of 36 years with the two goals on Monday taking his season tally to 11 goals from just 14 starts.
His first Roman derby in October 2011 endeared him to the Lazio faithful after his 93rd minute winner. It was a long time since the Biancoceleste fans could boast of the presence of a legend of the game in their ranks. Klose’s acquisition changed that, especially after his record breaking goals in Brazil last summer.
Klose is lethal. His record of a goal every 132 minutes is only bettered by Carlos Tevez and Mauro Icardi for players starting more than 10 league games in Serie A.
Moreover, his goals against Fiorentina came from just three shots. They were from a cumulative distance of a couple of meters, highlighting his predator instincts and the knack of being in the right place at the right time. In fact, the 36-year-old had the least touches of all the players lasting 90 minutes against the Viola. Deadly.
Add 4 assists to his tally and one can easily realize how sorely missed the World Cup top scorer was during his spell on the sidelines earlier on in the season. Only the aforementioned Anderson and Candreva have contributed more assists for Lazio.
The veteran’s striker’s main attribute has always been his heading ability with his average of 2.6 aerial duels won per game bettered only by Lorik Cana from his team-mates.
Interestingly, Klose’s club form has frequently been questioned throughout his career. 118 Bundesliga goals spanning over a decade with Kaiserslautern, Werder Bremen and Bayern Munich doesn’t really compare with 71 goals in just 137 caps for Germany. Nevertheless, 8 major trophies at club level, including two Bundesliga titles, are good company to one gold, one silver and two bronze World Cup medals.
With all the controversies surrounding owner Claudio Lotito and the Ultras fans along with a decade of financial uncertainties, Miroslav Klose represents something fresh. The episodes of fair play surrounding the former Germany striker are miles away from the fascist and anti-semitic demonstrations seen at times among the Lazio Ultras.
Klose’s status in the game certainly deserves another pop at Champions League football. If he continues his current form, then it will be in a Sky Blue shirt. A fitting tribute to a club that helped him regain his goal scoring touch before the World cup in Brazil.
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