Straight from the dark heart of Italy
Lazio could be title a contender if only Miroslav Klose played every game. The striker is a bit like the Good China: he is only makes an appearance on important occasions.
While he is usually wrapped up safely out of sight when it comes to matches against Serie A’s lesser sides, the German is a stonewall certainty to cause the top teams defensive headaches and invariably find the back of the net.
Since arriving in Serie A at the start of last season on a free transfer after failing to agree an extension with Bayern Munich, where he had only scored one goal in what had been an injury-plagued year, the 34-year-old has found the net 23 times from 44 league appearances.
The big-five had all suffered to varying degrees - especially AS Roma; against whom Klose has netted in each of his three appearances, including a last-minute winner on his first derby outing.
They call it ‘The Klose Law’ and apart from Juventus the only other side not to have a received a sentence had been Inter - but that all changed at the Olympic stadium on Saturday evening.
Having already missed a very presentable chance, Klose’s persistence finally paid off when he scored one of his trademark goals nine minutes from time; redirecting a low ball into the area with considerably power and accuracy towards the far corner of the net, to hand the Biancocelesti an important victory.
Inter, of course, have their own in-the-box finisher in Diego Milito, but the Argentine has been off the boil lately and unlike Klose he is wheeled out for just about every game without a chance to recharge the batteries.
Nerazzurri coach Andrea Strammacioni has admitted he does not possess a replacement for Milito and is hoping that Massimo Moratti will present him with a back-up in January, and his opposite number at Lazio, Vladimir Petkovic, is in a similat situation, accepting that he has only one genuine goal-scorer and thusly must use him sparingly.
Klose was kept on the bench for an hour at Bologna last Monday in what had been an insipid display from the Romans, but his entry transformed the team so much that they almost claimed all three points just by his mere presence inside the opposition half.
Coming into the weekend showdown where both teams knew that a win would keep them handily placed for a top three spot and a defeat would damage those aims heading into the winter break, Klose’s name would have been the first on Petkovic’s team-sheet.
For many romantics of the art of goalscoring, Klose lacks the frills of a Ronaldo, who he trails by a single goal in the all-time chart at World Cup finals, but there is no denying that he is effective from inside the area.
His strike against Inter took his tally this season to ten goals, highlighting his immense contribution considering that the rest of the team have pitched in with a grand total of 15.Four of those goals have been winners and he is well on target to surpass his 13-goal total for the whole of last season.
The strikes have been shared between his ability to arrive inside the area at just the right moment to steer the ball home or to produce a toe-poke past a lunging defender and diving goalkeeper.
Little effort seems to be expended but that is the secret of his art while his heading ability has long been recognized as the best in the business although in Italy where defenders are adept at blocking runs at set-pieces he has had marginally less success than he had in the Bundesliga or at international level.
Grabbing the headlines with goals in the derby and against the likes of the Milanese sides keeps the Polish-born frontman in the running for what is his real aim in the swansong of his career – another World Cup finals appearance and a last chance to really write his name into the history books.
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