Its derby day in the Italian capital on Sunday as Roma lock horns with Lazio to claim the first city bragging rights of the new season.
Both teams were involved in European action this week. Roma produced another heart stopping performance for their fans at the StadioOlimpico against Bayer Leverkusen. 2-0 ahead at half-time when really Rudi Garcia’s team should have been out of sight, they capitulated within the opening five minutes of the restart, to let the visitors back into the game before a Miralem Pjanic penalty in the closing stages, hauled the Giallorossi over the finish line to keep their Champions League hopes alive. Injuries to key players took the shine off the victory however, and in a week that started with a narrow 1-0 defeat away to Inter, the last thing Garcia would have wanted going into the international break, was a highly charged derby against their city rivals.
A STRANGE ATMOSPHERE AT THE OLIMPICO
Lazio had an easier time of it in the Europa League on Thursday, seeing off Rosenborg 2-0 on a bitterly cold night in Norway, to pretty much secure their passage into the knock-out stages of the tournament. Domestically, it’s been a week to forget for coach Stefano Pioli after his team were taken apart in front of their own fans by Milan last weekend. Unlike their city neighbours, Lazio will be delighted to have a chance to quickly redeem themselves in the “Derby dellaCapitale” on Sunday however, the match looks set to be played in the strangest of atmosphere’s, with the hard core “Ultras” of both teams continuing to boycott the stadium due to the new security measures put in place for this season.
The victory in midweek has taken its toll on the Roma side ahead of Sunday’s huge clash. Captain Daniele De Rossi is out after playing the last ten minutes against the German’s as a virtual spectator due to injury. Alessandro Florenzi is also a major doubt, after he hobbled off early in the second-half on Wednesday. His replacement, the Brazilian Maicon, only lasted 15 minutes before he too had to leave the field. Greek defender VassilisTorosidis, who became the third player to play at right-back on the night, will retain his place should Florenzi not make it. Bosnian midfielder Pjanic is suspended after seeing red last weekend at the San Siro, however Seydou Keita is ready to return to the team after his injury lay-off. Striker EdinDzeko finally got back on the scoresheet on Wednesday, if you fancy him as an anytime scorer on Sunday, the best online sports betting sites currently quote him at *2.10.
Lazio were rocked with the news this week that Dutch defender Stefan de Vrij will be out of action for up to six months after having knee surgery. Midfielder Marco Parolo is also unavailable as he continues his rehabilitation after injury. Big German striker Miroslav Klose, who loves scoring against Roma, should keep his place as the focal point up front and Biancocelesti fans will be hoping that this is the game where Antonio Candreva finally returns to something like the form he showed last season. He currently sits at *3.75 with the betting exchanges to score on Sunday.
PROBABLE STARTING XI’S
Roma (4-3-3) Szczęsny; Digne, Manolas, Rüdiger, Torosidis; Nainggolan, Keita, Falque; Salah, Dzeko, Gervinho
Lazio (4-3-3) Marchetti; Radu, Gentiletti, Mauricio, Basta; Lulić, Biglia, Onazi; Candreva, Klose, Felipe Anderson
HEAD TO HEAD
Lazio’s last league victory over Roma came back in November 2012 when goals from Candreva, Klose and Stefano Mauri gave them a 3-2 win. Lazio will also be desperate for revenge after last season’s 2-1 win for the Giallorossi secured their place in this seasons Champions League at the expense of their bitter rivals. Roma are unbeaten in the last five games between the two sides.
Roma 1.95 Draw 3.50 Lazio 4.00
*odds courtesy of Bet365
Steve Mitchell (@barafundler)