Roma will take on Lazio in what should be a highly entertaining Derby della Capitale clash on Saturday evening at the Stadio Olimpico, and the Giallorossi will certainly be loath to avoid a repeat of their last meeting with their cross-town rivals.
The Biancocelesti famously won this fixture 3-1 last season, which marked their first victory as the “away” side since 2012. Should they win today, it will be the first time they’ve won back-to-back derby meetings. From 2011 to 2012, they famously won three on the trot, and in fact, Lazio didn’t lose a derby meeting to Roma until 2013. The Giallorossi would then go on to dominate this famous clash, winning five and drawing two until they squared off in 2017 during the Coppa Italia semi-finals.
Lazio won the first leg 2-0, thus making Roma’s 3-2 win in the second leg a moot point, and the Biancocelesti would go on to face Juventus. So far, Simone Inzaghi’s men have gotten revenge on the Bianconeri – twice. They first beat them in the Supercoppa Italiana at the start of this season, and then famously ended their long-standing unbeaten home streak by defeating them 2-1 at Allianz Stadium, thus making them the first team since Udinese (in August 2015) to achieve that.
Inzaghi’s side are presently on a six-game winning streak in the league since losing 4-1 to Napoli, and if one includes Europa League games, that run extends to nine across all competitions. However, they have major concerns about the fitness of Ciro Immobile, who featured in Italy’s frustrating stalemate against Sweden this past Monday. Immobile has been a man in top form for Lazio this term, with his 14 league goals seeing him on top in the Capocannoniere race, and thus will have to pass a late fitness test to determine his availability.
Meanwhile, as Lazio have been soaring, Roma also have had a great start to the season. After a difficult start under Eusebio Di Francesco, the Giallorossi seem to have hit their stride and come into this game having won their last four league ties. Interestingly, their winning run in Serie A also came following a loss to Napoli, whilst they now top their Champions League group after a stunning 3-0 demolition of Chelsea at the end of last month.
Radja Nainggolan, however, is a concern for the home side due to suffering an injury whilst on international duty with Belgium, and should he not be able to feature, his absence obviously will be a major blow in the middle of the park. Roma also will be hoping that Edin Dzeko can again find his goal-scoring touch as the big Bosnian has cut a rather subdued figure in front of goal, but Stephan El Shaarawy has been in inspired form as of late, with crucial goals against Chelsea and the game decider against Bologna.
It’s always more than just a game when these two famous rivals meet, and for the coaches, they certainly will be well aware of this. Both Di Francesco and Inzaghi plied their trades for Roma and Lazio respectively (as a striker and a midfielder) and there will be that much more added impetus to earn the first bragging rights of the season in what should be a highly intense derby clash.