BY: Steve Mitchell
Its derby day in the capital with Champions League places up for grabs. Napoli’s defeat to Juventus on Saturday has ensured that Roma will at least play in the final qualifying round of next season’s competition, Lazio require at least a point to ensure they do the same.
A win for I Biancocelesti would see them leapfrog their city neighbours and give them a two point advantage going into the final round of matches whilst a victory for I Giallorossi would ensure automatic qualification into the group stages of Europe’s premier club competition. Should the match finish all square, then Roma will maintain their slender one point advantage heading into match day 38.
Originally scheduled for Sunday afternoon, the fixture was moved to Monday evening at the request of Lazio president Claudio Lotito and despite their opponent’s protests, the Italian football authorities decided to grant Lazio their wish – a decision which has ramped up the tension in a fixture that is always played in a pressure cooker atmosphere.
Lazio coach Stefano Pioli has choices to make in his midfield with highly rated Argentinian Lucas Biglia available for selection after his injury lay off. Should he go straight back into the starting XI then it seems DaniloCataldi will drop back to the substitute’s bench.
In attack, Miroslav Klose looks likely to start ahead of Serbian Filip Đorđević whose arrival onto the field in last week’s Coppa Italia final, seemed to galvanise Pioli’s men in their narrow defeat to Juventus. Federico Marchetti should return in goal after serving his one match suspension and Bosnian international SenadLulić will replace the unfortunate ŞtefanRadu, injured in last week’s cup final, at left-back.
Roma coach Rudi Garcia has no real selection headaches ahead of Monday evening. Alessandro Florenzi, who has been in inspired form of late, returns to the side after suspension and could replace Juan Iturbe on the right side of a front three. Other than that it looks like I Giallorossi will line-up in the same way they did last time out in the crucial 2-1 home win over Udinese.
Garcia may also include Brazilian full-back Maicon on the substitute’s bench, the 33 –year-old has been absent from the squad for over three months with a knee injury, his last appearance coming in the 0-2 home Coppa Italia defeat to Fiorentina in February. Five of Monday’s possible starting 22 are Roman by birth. Lazio have Cataldi and Antonio Candreva, Roma have Florenzi, Daniele De Rossi and of course club talisman Francesco Totti who has scored five times in the last eight games against Lazio.
The Italian football federation have assigned their top man, Nicola Rizzoli to referee this game and with all the hyperbole surrounding the latest instalment of this notoriously volatile fixture, the man from Bologna will find himself under the most intense scrutiny. Having been in charge of last year’s World Cup final in Brazil, a game of this magnitude should present no problem to him.
Our Probable Formations:
Lazio (4-2-3-1) Marchetti; Lulić, Gentiletti, de Vrij, Basta; Parolo,Biglia; Felipe Anderson, Mauri, Candreva; Klose
Roma(4-3-3) De Sanctis; Holebas,Manolas, Yanga-Mbiwa, Torosidis; Pjanic, De Rossi, Nainggolan; Florenzi, Totti, Ibarbo