The Rome Derby hasn’t been this significant in a long time. A lot is at stake when AS Roma clash with arch-rivals Lazio at the Stadio Olimpico on Sunday. This season, the tables have turned in the Italian capital.

The Eagles are having their best campaign in years and looking unstoppable as they aim to close in on league-leaders Juventus in the heated Serie A title race.

The Giallorossi are having ups and downs, but will be intent on stopping Lazio’s 11-match winning streak and extinguish their title dreams in what’s expected to be a thrilling clash.

Story behind the game

Roma have adapted well to Paulo Fonseca’s style, but have had a very topsy-turvy start to 2020. But having recorded consecutive league wins even without some key players, the Giallorossi look to be on the upwards trajectory once again and will look to unleash their pent-up aggression at their rivals.

After years of tinkering, Simone Inzaghi has his calculations perfect with Lazio this time around. The Eagles are almost unstoppable right now and are finding ways to grind out emphatic wins week in, week out. They’ll want to keep building this record winning streak by getting a sweet win over their enemy.

The Rome Derby has been very tightly contested in recent years, with Roma and Lazio both having won two games each in their last six encounters and drawing the remaining two. With this being a tie-breaker of sorts, both are gunning for nothing but a win.

The Giallorossi’s top-four dreams is being boosted by those behind them in the table constantly fluffing their lines, but they need some emphatic wins to solidify that position. Despite having a troublesome year, if they’re able to show off their attacking might and plough through their rivals, it’ll give the squad a huge confident booster into going all the way into making sure they play UEFA Champions League football next year.

Despite their crazy run of form, Lazio are still trailing Juventus in the league table. If Inzaghi really wants that improbable Serie A title this time around, these are the games Lazio must win. It’ll be a real test of character to prove if they’re really worthy to go all the way. The players will be pumped for it and need to bring their A-game if they’re to really prove themselves as credible title challengers.

Team news

AS Roma are suffering from a real injury crisis plaguing their squad right now. Nicolo Zaniolo’s out for the season, while Javier Pastore, Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Davide Zappacosta, Mirko Antonucci are all ruled out for the game. Diego Perotti and Amadou Diawara are also major doubts.

Lazio have some injury problems of their own. Jordan Lukaku, Adam Marusic and Danilo Cataldi are all ruled out for the Derby.

Predicted line-ups

AS Roma: Lopez, Florenzi, Smalling, Mancini, Kolarov, Pellegrini, Veretout, Under, Pellegrini, Kluivert, Dzeko

Lazio: Strakovska, Acerbi, Felipe, Radu, Lazzari, Milinkovic-Savic, Lucas, Alberto, Lulic, Correa, Immobile

Key clashes

Ciro Immobile vs Chris Smalling

Ciro Immobile has evolved into an unstoppable goal-scoring machine in Serie A this season. With 23 goals halfway through the campaign, the Italian’s powering his side into demolishing everything ahead of them. But Immobile is facing a daunting challenge against a resurgent Chris Smalling on Sunday. The man on loan from Manchester United has found new life at Rome, making clutch challenges and putting in solid defensive performances consistently. He’ll face a formidable task keeping an eye on the unpreictable Immobile and neutralizing his threat. With the Italian firing on all cylinders, this should be a feisty battle.

Lorenzo Pellegrini vs Luis Alberto

The battle in midfield will be crucial to decipher which team gets the upper hand during the Rome Derby. With both sides boasting quality midfielders, Lorenzo Pellegrini and Luis Alberto have proven to be ahead of the curve. When these two clash on Sunday, some real fireworks can be expected to flare off. Pellegrini’s been an unrelenting character for Roma, being their driving force in midfield and contributing many goals. Alberto’s been Lazio’s creative beacon and would look to threaten with his crosses and set-pieces. With both players looking to cancel each other out, it’ll come down to who wants to win more desperately to decide which team dominates the middle.