The Stadio Olimpico prepares for a highly-anticipated Derby della Capitale on Sunday evening as Lazio and Roma go head-to-head in Serie A.
The second derby of the season between Lazio and Roma will prove to be pivotal – they are both fighting for a Champions League spot. Just two points currently separate the two sides, with the Biancocelesti in third and the Giallorossi in fifth.
After the completion of their European fixtures on Thursday, both Maurizio Sarri and Jose Mourinho have turned their full attention to the derby. For the ‘hosts’, they have the opportunity to go five points ahead of their fierce rivals and so defeat is out of the question for Roma. However, if the ‘visitors’ take home all three points, they can go ahead of Lazio and send out a big statemate in their Champions League bid.
Although, the Giallorossi will be without Mourinho down on the touchline due to him serving the second part of his two-match ban. The Portuguese manager was also absent for Roma’s 4-3 defeat at home to Sassuolo last Sunday. The ban was originally put on hold after a Roma appeal but it was later rejected and the former Inter boss will not be present for the derby.
It may benefit Lazio in the long run but they are coming off the back of a 2-1 defeat away to AZ Alkmaar in the Europa Conference League on Thursday night. The Italian outfit were already 2-1 down after suffering defeat at the Olimpico in the first leg and their exit from the competition allows them to solely focus on the domestic campaign.
The Biancocelesti managed to pick up all three points in the reverse fixture, with Felipe Anderson scoring the only goal back in November. However, it doesn’t bode well for Sarri and co. to record the win this time around since Lazio have failed to register victories in both derbies in a single season since 2012.
Player to Watch: Sergej Milinkovic-Savic
The Serbian star has seemingly been linked with a move away from Lazio ever since he broke on the scene but the 28-year-old still remains in the capital. Despite struggling to find his best form over the past few months, the midfielder remains one of the Biancocelesti’s main players, especially with Ciro Immobile in doubt. Milinkovic-Savic will be hoping to get on the scoresheet as he did in this fixture last season.
Speaking to the press ahead of Roma’s Europa League second leg with Real Sociedad, midfielder Lorenzo Pellegrini stated that he “must do more” and he will be looking to make more of an impact in the derby on Sunday. The 26-year-old has had an underwhelming campaign thus far and having contributed to just seven goals in Serie A this term, he knows he has to start providing more of an attacking output.
The offense has been the main issue for the Giallorossi so far this season. They have the fourth-best defense in the league, behind Napoli, Lazio and Juventus, but goals have been more of an issue and they have the lowest tally out of the top seven. Despite drawing 0-0 away to Real Sociedad on Thursday, Roma were able to advance into the quarter-finals of the Europa League so they head into this one in a better mental state after their defeat away to Sassuolo.
Player to Watch: Paulo Dybala
The Argentine is Roma’s top goalscorer in Serie A so far this term with a total of nine goals and a strong display by Paulo Dybala here would certainly help in their search for victory. The former Juventus man has scored a total of seven league goals against Lazio, albeit the last one coming back in the 2017/18 campaign. Nevertheless, he will be the main man for Mourinho’s men here.
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Lazio could be without Immobile for the derby and the 33-year-old forward has missed all three of the club’s last matches. However, there is hope he could feature and will likely be a game-time decision. Luis Alberto dropped to the bench for the AZ fixture midweek but he should return to the starting lineup for the derby.
However, Sarri will not be able to call upon the services of Matias Vecino who is suspended due to yellow card accumulation. The former Inter midfielder has been ever-present for the Biancocelesti this term and scored a rocket against Napoli at the beginning of the month so will be a big miss.
Defender Marash Kumbulla is suspended after being sent off against Sassuolo so the regular back three of Gianluca Mancini, Chris Smalling and Roger Ibanez will likely start on Sunday for Roma. Although, Rick Karsdorp was forced off in the first half against Real Sociedad on Thursday so Nicola Zalewski is expected to start at right wing-back.
Pellegrini missed the Sassuolo game due to a head injury but he is set to return with protective equipment and was able to make the starting lineup against Sociedad. However, Nemanja Matic is nursing a knock and was unable to feature in the Europa League second leg so he is a doubt ahead of the fixture.
Lazio vs Roma Potential Lineups
Lazio (4-3-3): Ivan Provedel; Manuel Lazzari, Nicolo Casale, Alessio Romagnoli, Adam Marusic; Sergej Milinkovic-Savic, Danilo Cataldi, Luis Alberto; Pedro, Felipe Anderson, Mattia Zaccagni
Roma (3-4-2-1): Rui Patricio; Gianluca Mancini, Chris Smalling, Roger Ibanez; Nicola Zalewski, Bryan Cristante, Georginio Wijnaldum, Leonardo Spinazzola; Lorenzo Pellegrini, Paulo Dybala; Tammy Abraham
Lazio vs Roma Prediction
After an impressive 1-0 victory away to champions-elect Napoli, Lazio have struggled and have failed to win in any of their three matches since. They have also picked up just one win at home in their last three league fixtures. However, they are currently on a four-match unbeaten run in Serie A.
Roma’s away form, though, has been truly woeful of late and they have failed to find victory in any of their five previous matches on their travels. A win is imperative for the Giallorossi if they are to qualify for the Champions League next season but a draw is the most likely result.
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