Sunday marks this season’s first addition of the Derby della Capitale, as Rome’s two fierce rivals face each other at the Stadio Olimpico. In a season where Serie A looks to be wide open, winning a tense clash like this could put the wind in a team’s sails and propel them towards the top of the table, so despite the fact this game appears early in the schedule it could have long term implications for both squads.
Roma and Lazio each have 8 points after 5 league matches and both teams appear, in this early part of the season at least, to be improved when compared to last year’s squad. Both made plenty of changes in the offseason, and games like this can often tell much about how far a team has really come.
For Roma’s new coach Luis Enrique, he must face this first real challenge of his managerial career without the services Roma’s Emperor, as Francesco Totti has failed a fitness test and will not take part on Sunday. But Enrique has turned his team into much more than just a one-man attack. His goal was to bring a Barcelona-style passing fluidity to the capital, and so far he looks to be successful in his attempts. Roma slipped out of the gates, dropping their first league match at home to Cagliari. But since then, they have improved, with wins away to Parma and home to Atalanta.
But if you look just past the results, you see a Roma team that is playing some very attractive football. They are moving the ball around beautifully and have gotten some positive contributions from their new signings, especially midfielder Miralem Pjanic and forward Pablo Osvaldo. Add to that Daniele De Rossi, Roma’s immovable force in the center of the pitch, and the Giallorossi will be difficult to beat.
Lazio have scored one more goal than their rivals, but have conceded two more in their first five league matches. The Biancocelesti are coming off a terrific road win at Fiorentina which should give them some much needed momentum. Lazio’s attack has been deadly so far this season, with midfielder Hernanes and forwards Djibril Cisse and Miroslav Klose providing the threat. But Klose, the club’s leading scorer, looks as though he may miss this game with a knee injury, which could be a huge blow to Lazio.
The footballing world is full of great derby’s, but none bigger than the Derby della Capitale. It combines all of the sporting, historical and political tensions that make a great rivalry. Italy will once again stop what it is doing and turn its collective attention to the grand city for what promises to be a fantastic match.
Ok, it’s prediction time! This derby is always difficult to predict, and this addition is no exception. Both teams are playing well, but I like the direction Roma is heading a bit more. Lazio are the home team, but if they in fact must play without Klose they may lack just enough in their attack to tip the balance in Roma’s favor. Let me say 2-1 to Roma in a thriller.
Let me hear your predictions. Roma or Lazio?