With just a point of difference between them in the Serie A standings, fierce neighbourhood rivals Roma and Lazio lock horns on Sunday in a much anticipated Derby Della Capitale at the Stadio Olimpico.
Jose Mourinho’s men will feel pumped going into this fixture after they secured their knockout berth in the UEFA Europa League by disposing of Bulgarian side Ludogorets in a 3-1 victory. While their rivals made it through to the knockout phase of the Europa League, Lazio cannot boast of the same feat as they suffered 1-0 defeat at the hands of Dutch outfit Feyenoord in a quite tricky Group F where all of the 4 teams involved finished on level points and required the goal difference stats to make the final standings.
Roma qualified for the Round of 32 stages and stood behind group winners Real Betis after a second-half turnaround in their match against Ludogorets. While Rick broke the deadlock in the 41st minute for the visitors, two successive penalties converted by Lorenzo Pellegrini and a brilliant goal from Nicolo Zaniolo paved the continuation of their European dream.
Currently at fourth place in the Serie A standings, the Giallorossi have scored the least amount of goals (16) among the top-six and the attacking department is one that Mourinho will hope to perform effectively in the derby if they want to get over their rivals who hold a commendable defensive record.
Meanwhile, Lazio’s departure from European competition this season was confirmed on Thursday as Feyenoord man Santiago Gimenez’s only strike stood the difference between the two favourites of the group.
The Biancocelesti will look to come back on winning ways as they couldn’t find success in their last league fixture against Salernitana. Mattia Zaccagni drew first blood near the end of the first half but soon found themselves in trouble after their former player Antonio Candreva levelled the scores in the 51st minute. Strikers from Federico Fazio and Boulaye Dia put the final nail in the coffin for Maurizio Sarri’s men who now stand on the brink of a third consecutive defeat in all competitions.
Unlike their rival counterparts, Lazio have started the season with exemplary goalscoring form and a formidable pack at the back. The Biancocelesti have netted 24 times and have only conceded 8 which is the joint second-best record in the league now alongside 2nd placed Atalanta.
Results in the last five matches in all competitions:
W W W L W
L L W W D
For Roma, the likes of Paulo Dybala, Georginio Wijnaldum and Leonardo Spinazzola are to be sidelined with long-term injuries.
Nicola Zalewski is expected to get the nod over Stephen El Shaarawy on the left. Andrea Belotti is expected to be benched and Nicolo Zaniolo to start after his spectacular performance against Ludogorets.
For Lazio, Maurizio Sarri will miss two of his most important players for the derby as Ciro Immobile is out with a thigh injury and Sergej Milinkovic-Savic is set to watch from the sidelines after getting booked in their last fixture.
Mattia Zaccagni is expected to start with Pedro in the attack.
Roma (3-4-2-1): Patricio; Mancini, Smalling, Ibanez; Karsdorp, Cristante, Matic, Zalewski; Zaniolo, Pellegrini; Abraham
Lazio (4-3-3): Provedel; Lazzari, Casale, Romagnoli, Marusic; Vecino, Cataldi, Alberto; Pedro, Anderson, Zaccagni
GIFN | Trambak Bhattacherjee