News surfaced on Monday that was the stuff of nightmares for all Lazio fans. After being replaced at half-time against Genoa last weekend, the Biancocelesti announced that Miroslav Klose had suffered knee ligament damage.
The German striker has been his usual, goalscoring self this season, bagging 10 in 20 League appearances – guiding the capital club to third place in Serie A and a potential spot in the Champions League next season. His lay-off though, which will see the 34-year-old on the sidelines for up to two months, could seriously derail the club’s European and Scudetto ambitions.
Klose is set to miss key games against Napoli, Milan, Fiorentina and even the Rome derby on April 7. It’s not just his finishing ability that will be sorely lacking, but the leadership and presence that he brings to all of Lazio’s matches.
As President Claudio Lotito put in to reporters: “We have to be in a position to remain competitive at the end of the season, then we’ll see what happens. Klose could be back before two months – who knows?”
It wasn’t the most convincing of statements from the Aquile owner, and it indicates a real worry inside the club as they go into a vital part of the campaign without, arguably, their most influential player.
To try and smooth the loss of the Polish-born forward, the Stadio Olimpico side have brought in free agent Louis Saha until the end of the season, with the option of a 12-month extension.
That sounds like wishful thinking for a player whose last goal came almost exactly a year ago in Tottenham’s 5-2 loss to Arsenal. His brief spell at Sunderland wasn’t a success either as 11 Premier League appearances failed to bring any strikes. Not since his time at Fulham between 2000 and 2004 could you label the Frenchman a proper, clinical goalscorer. And unfortunately for Lazio, that’s exactly what they need at the moment.
Coach Vladimir Petkovic, however, has insisted that the former Manchester United man is not a like-for-like swap. “Saha is not just a replacement for Klose,” he claimed at the player’s presentation Press conference. “When the German returns, we will have more options available to us. His arrival makes us even more competitive.”
Whatever the Coach or the President say though, it’s going to be an anxious time on the blue side of the Eternal City for the next couple of months. Their top scorer is out for the long-haul, a new goal-shy striker has been brought in and there are even worries about the fitness of playmaker and creative hub Hernanes.
The Brazilian was knocked unconscious in the Coppa Italia semi-final against Juventus in January, and, despite being given the all-clear to play this weekend at home to Napoli, there are fears that he may be rushed back too soon. Add to that the news that Cristian Brocchi has a broken metatarsal and things really do go from bad to worse for the club.
It has been a remarkable first half to the campaign for Lazio – third in Serie A, a place in the Coppa Italia Final and a spot in the latter stages of the Europa League. But could the wealth of injuries, especially to key players, sabotage their season?
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