The club's eagle mascot Olimpia was in no mood to fly before the game against Cagliari Calcio, but S.S. Lazio continued to soar regardless with a 2-1 victory that gave Edoardo Reja's team a club-record tally of 19 points from eight Serie A outings.
Following the example of SL Benfica, who share the same symbol, Lazio have an eagle fly above the Stadio Olimpico pitch as a pre-match ritual before descending to the turf. But this time Olimpia rejected the routine of three circuits before landing on the grass, staying perched at the top of the arena for almost an hour after just a single tour.
"It didn't look like a good omen for us," said president Claudio Lotito afterwards. "The eagle played a little trick on us but fortunately the game went well." Goals from Sergio Floccari and Stefano Mauri earned Lazio their sixth win in eight games and a four-point lead over FC Internazionale Milano at the top of the table.
Lazio have never before taken 19 points from their first eight matches; the side that won the Scudetto under Sven-Göran Eriksson in 1999/2000 had 18 at this stage. Their achievement this time under Reja, the oldest coach in Serie A at 65, is all the more impressive given they fought against relegation last term.
I'm a veteran but I cannot hide my excitement at being top of the table," said Reja. "However, I think I have the right experience to handle this situation. I'm humble by nature and I manage to transmit this to the team. We are our own harshest critics in the dressing room and I think that is very important if we are to improve.
"We are top now but I don't think we have a real chance of winning the Scudetto," the former SSC Napoli boss added. "We are behind a few other teams on paper. We are doing very well because our team is almost the same as last year while most of the top clubs have made big changes and are still working to find the right balance. Obviously, if they take too long, we'll give it a try. After all, appetite comes with eating."
Lazio may have not changed much this summer but Brazilian midfielder Hernanes is proving a key addition to the ranks. "He is crucial for us with his technique, even when he is a bit tired like today," said Reja of the 25-year-old signing from São Paulo FC. Hernanes added: "Now, I want a victory against Roma to finally conquer [the hearts of] the Lazio fans." With the derby scheduled for two weeks' time, he will not have long to wait for his opportunity.
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