Francesco Totti long ago achieved deification in Rome – just ask the men and women in the maroon and gold shirts who spend his birthday each year wishing one another a Merry Christmas – but ahead of last weekend's Derby della Capitale he was instead playing the part of a prophet. A false one, to be precise.
"Who will be the key man for the derby," mused the Roma captain after confirming that he himself would be unavailable due to a thigh injury. "[Lazio's manager Edy] Reja. He's our good luck charm."
Reja's record against Roma had long been a source of fun – the manager having lost all four derbies since taking charge last February and never having beaten the Giallorossi in 13 attempts at various clubs (indeed, he only twice managed a draw). But what Totti forgot is that these days Lazio have a prophet of their own. Four days after his pronouncement, the Roma captain could only watch as Hernanes – il Profeta to fans – set Lazio on the way to a first derby win since April 2009.
Hernanes's cool penalty early in the second half levelled the scores at Stadio Olimpico, after Roma had taken the lead through Pablo Daniel Osvaldo (the latter acknowledging Totti by revealing a T-shirt which read "Vi ho purgato anch'io" – I too have purged you – a reference to the captain's 1999 garment declaring "Vi ho purgato ancora" – I have purged you again"). Of course, depending on your perspective, you might argue that it was not the Prophet who had turned the game but rather the Roma defender Simon Kjaer. Or even the referee Paolo Tagliavento.
It was Kjaer, after all, who had given away the penalty, snatching foolishly at Cristian Brocchi's shirt inside the area – and Tagliavento who had awarded the spot kick despite the fact the contact was minimal and the striker might not have reached Hernanes's through ball in any case. Kjaer, the last man, was sent off. But if Roma's fans felt cheated then there was a degree of irony. Tagliavento's appointment had been met by uproar from Lazio fans who believe the official has a long-standing bias towards their rivals.
"If the eagle cannot fly, why does Tagliavento get to referee?" demanded one Lazio banner in the Curva Nord – likening the official to their mascot Olimpia, whose customary pre-match lap of the stadium had been cancelled due to concern it would be targeted by Roma supporters.
In his two previous Rome derbies, Tagliavento had sent off three Lazio players. Giuseppe Biava might have been tempted not to return the referee's red card at all after Tagliavento unwittingly dropped it late in the first half.
But on this occasion it was Roma supporters who left cursing the official and their midfielder David Pizarro, who refused to speak to the press afterwards, growling: "I won't talk after a robbery like this." Their ire ought perhaps to have been directed at Kjaer instead, but certainly it was true that the decision had turned the game. Roma had dominated the first half but spent the second camped on the edge of their own area.
But although they rarely threatened to restore their advantage, they were at least able to contain Lazio for the most part – limiting their nominal hosts to just a handful of true chances, even if Djibril Cissé struck a post with one venomous volley. Until, that is, the final minute of injury time. That was when Miroslav Klose brought down a chipped pass from Matuzalém inside the box and slotted it past Maarten Stekelenburg.
Here, at last, was the correct part of Totti's prophecy, the Roma captain having predicted in a more serious moment that Klose could play a key role, even if he hoped that would not be the case. Not that it would have taken a great oracle to foresee a key role for the German. His impact since arriving on a free transfer has been such that Lazio's fans have already renamed him Mito – Legend – instead of Miro. Corriere dello Sport's Luigi Ferrajolo described him this morning as "the greatest talent on this Lazio team".
Klose has been distinctly understated in his dealings with the press since arriving in Rome, and certainly much more so than his fellow summer arrival, Djibril Cissé. While his strike partner generated headlines in the buildup to this game by announcing that he was "a player who changes history", Klose said nothing. Indeed, even after the game he managed to largely elude the national press. Instead he left a sixth goal in eight competitive games to do the talking.
At 33, there were many in Italy who had suggested the player's only remaining career goal at Lazio was to stick a few more euros in the bank, but they have been proven wrong. Klose told Bild newspaper after the move that he still hopes to break Gerd Muller's record of 68 goals for Germany (he has 62), yet when the striker suffered a knee injury last week he left the national team's training camp and returned immediately to Rome – missing out on a ceremony recognising players with over 100 caps before the game against Belgium – to give himself the best chance of being fit for the derby.
His contribution has been felt off the pitch as well, with Klose understood to have been a key voice in persuading Reja to reconsider his attempted resignation last month. The manager's already fraught relationship with the supporters had been further damaged by a slow start to the season following the departure of the popular Mauro Zárate, but on Sunday Klose's goal allowed Reja to celebrate a win under a delirious Curva Nord – even if he did collect a red card for leaving his technical area in the process.
But if Reja got up this morning with a sore head, it is Luis Enrique who will have had the more painful reminder of the night before. Klose, after all, is among his neighbours in plush Olgiata to the north of Rome. The manager may even have envied the club's owner, Thomas DiBenedetto, who flew in from the US for the game but made a swift exit from Rome on Monday morning, but instead put on a brave face.
"I am already ready for the next derby: we will win the return meeting," vowed Enrique at full-time. Perhaps before that game he will ask his captain not to make any predictions.
• Really, you want to hear more about a round of fixtures that produced five goalless draws on Sunday? Gazzetta dello Sport's Ruggiero Palombo coined the term "Pareggiopoli" – Draw-gate – to describe Sunday, while his colleague Alberto Cerruti was more damning. "A low mark for goals this season (14 in one round of fixtures) and five 0-0 draws. These are not simple statistics but embarrassing confirmations of the modest nature of what was once considered the most beautiful league in the world." Perhaps, but let's not forget that just a month ago we were celebrating a first weekend with 35 goals. It is early days, and this is the first time in more than two decades that Serie A has produced so many goalless games in a single round of fixtures.
• What is clear six games into this season is that we have no stand-out candidate for the 2011-12 Scudetto. Juventus and Udinese sit atop the pile with 12 points each, but that is the lowest sum for a league-leading side six games into a season since the introduction of three points for a win in 1994-95.
• While there is no shame for Juve in drawing away to a solid Chievo team, it is clear that Antonio Conte's vision of a team with true wingers providing penetration and width has not yet materialised. Milos Krasic looks a shadow of the player who sparked such enthusiasm a year ago, and Conte appears to be losing patience. "We have a little problem there," said the manager when asked about his team's wing play, but it would appear he does not yet have faith in the alternatives available. "[Eljero] Elia and [Marcelo] Estigarribia are still not up to speed with our concepts."
• As for Udinese, this is the first time ever in Serie A that they have been unbeaten after six games. From last year's helter-skelter ways, Francseco Guidolin seems to have evolved into something more solid. Thus far they have conceded just a single goal.
• The one team outside Rome who did manage to score on Sunday were hardly the most likely candidate. Bologna had not won a competitive match since 13 March, but with Stefano Pioli replacing Pierpaolo Bisoli on the bench they finally did so at the weekend, winning 2-0 at Novara after a first half in which they had at one point looked set to be overwhelmed.
• Things were rather more lively on Saturday, as Milan looked back to their old selves in a 3-0 rout of Palermo, while Napoli looked like a team with more than one eye on a midweek game against Bayern Munich as they lost at home to Parma. But the big story was yet another defeat for Internazionale, who blew a 1-0 lead to lose at Catania. They finished with just four points from six games – their worst start since the second world war and outside the relegation zone only on goal difference. Had results gone differently on Sunday, they could even have been bottom.
• Inter's owner, Massimo Moratti, has made it clear where he feels the greatest problem lies in an interview with Gazzetta dello Sport, insisting that of the four penalties given against them this season "three were invented", and generally making it clear that, while he sees problems in his team's play, the greater issue to his mind has been their treatment by referees. But Claudio Ranieri struck a different note. "You could see that when Catania were pushing on, we were struggling to keep up. This team needs to improve its conditioning, to start running again." Unfortunately poor fitness is not an easy issue to resolve in the middle of a season, with a squad featuring a few too many players the wrong side of 30.
Results: Atalanta 0-0 Udinese, Cagliari 0-0 Siena, Catania 2-1 Internazionale, Cesena 0-0 Fiorentina, Chievo Verona 0-0 Juventus, Genoa 0-0 Lecce, Lazio 2-1 Roma, Milan 3-0 Palermo, Napoli 1-2 Parma Novara 0-2 Bologna.