The first Derby Della Capitale is happening very early on into the 2019/20 Serie A season, as Lazio and AS Roma clash in what is expected to be a heated clash at the Stadio Olimpico on Sunday. Lazio started their campaign in emphatic fashion, clinching a 3-0 win at Sampdoria, while Roma were held to a thrilling 3-3 draw to Genoa. With the chance for the hosts to take a reasonable lead over their rivals and for the Giallorossi to leapfrog over Lazio, some drama is all set to ensure in the Italian capital.
Story Behind The Game
Lazio couldn’t really have asked for a better start to their Serie A campaign, as they humbled Sampdoria at their own yard last weekend. Coming off that emphatic victory, Simone Inzaghi's side look to be firing on all cylinders and produced some scintillating attacking football spearheaded by the brilliance of star striker Ciro Immobile.
AS Roma, on the other hand, produced some thrilling attacking football themselves in their opening game, but their defensive vulnerabilities resulted in them dropping points. In a game they should’ve convincingly won, Paulo Fonseca’s side didn’t give him the best welcoming gift at the Olimpico. However, the Giallorossi has the opportunity to right it's wrong by giving a strong performance and win over the fans after the Derby.
Roma and Lazio have managed to cancel each other out in the last five Derby Della Capitale encounters, all of which have been relatively action-packed fixtures. Both the sides have won two games each in their last five matches, but Lazio holds the advantage of having thumped their bitter rivals 3-0 in March. Knowing their dominant form and Roma’s defensive weakness, something similar would be relished among their supporters.
Paulo Fonseca would’ve preferred the heated Rome Derby later on into the season, but this is his best chance to win over the Roma fans. After the humiliation suffered in March, this is the perfect opportunity for him to redo his predecessor’s wrongs. He’ll need to fix his defensive line and hope his young, clinical attack can turn up the magic on Sunday.
Lazio, on the other hand, are looking to mount an unlikely title charge this season. In order to maintain their consistency over a long period, a momentum-booster like crushing their city-rivals would be perfectly. Simone Inzaghi wants to continue his impressive recent derby adventures and will want his side mounting the misery on the Giallorossi.
Lazio will be without a few defenders as Wallace is suffering from a thigh injury and Jordan Lukaku is still recovering from his patellar tendon tear. Lucas Leiva played the Sampdoria game from the bench but could make his return in the heated derby.
AS Roma will be without their influential midfielder Diego Perotti who suffered a major thigh strain and is expected to be out for nearly two months. New signing Leonardo Spinazzola hasn’t recovered from his injury either. Davide Zappacosta could start on Sunday. As could new signings Amadou Diawara and Jordan Veretout.
Lazio XI: Strakosha, Felipe, Acerbi, Radu, Lazzari, Milinkovic-Savic, Parolo, Alberto, Lulic, Correa, Immobile.
AS Roma XI: Lopez, Zappacosta, Fazio, Mancini, Kolarov, Cristante, Pellegrini, Under, Zaniolo, Kluivert, Dzeko.
Sergej Milinkovic-Savic vs Lorenzo Pellegrini
After being named the Serie A midfielder of the season last season, Sergej Milinkovic-Savic has started this season with a bang. He was very impressive dictating Lazio’s attacks last week, creating quite a few chances and bossing the midfield battle. However, against the lively Lorenzo Pellegrini, things won’t be so easy. The Roma youngster’s also a proactive figure in the middle, moving all around to regain possession and moving the ball forward very well. A clash of their unique styles could create some sparks and more importantly, a feisty battle. If the game is decided in the midfield battle, it’ll be up to these two to win it for their respective side.
Ciro Immobile vs Federico Fazio
Federico Fazio couldn’t really do anything to avert the defensive breakdown last week, often being caught wrong-footed himself. With Chris Smalling’s impending arrival, he’ll need to perform strongly or risk being benched. Keeping Ciro Immobile quiet is something Italy’s best defenders have found an impossible task. The Italian striker’s maintained his conniving work in the final third, moving around with intent and always peeping into goal-scoring positions. If he’s given space to score, he’ll thump the ball into the net. Fazio must bring his best traits against Lazio or risk being exposed once again against a formidable attacking line.