Lazio v AS Roma Preview
Stadio Olimpico, Rome
MATCH IN A SENTENCE: Serie A’s two non-Italian managers will go head-to-head in Sunday’s Derby della Capitale between fifth-place Lazio and sixth-ranked Roma.
BREAKDOWN: Only two points separate Lazio and Roma after 11 rounds this season, but it wouldn’t be an exaggeration to suggest the winner of Sunday’s derby will have the upper hand in the race for one of Serie A’s three Champions League places.
Lazio, who are winless in their last three league matches, were right at the top of the heap alongside Juventus and Napoli in the early going this season, but their recent run of futility has seen them drop to the point that wildly inconsistent Roma could leapfrog them in the standings with a win on Sunday.
Not surprisingly, a lot of the focus will be on the two managers both during and following the match. Roma boss Zdenek Zeman has seen many derbies on both sides of the local divide, and in his pre-match press conference Lazio boss Vladimir Petkovic paid tribute to his opposite number.
“Zeman is a legend in Italy and I was always aware of his success when I was working in Switzerland,” he said. “So many good things have been said about him and he is well-known all over Europe.”
About the derby, itself, Petkovic remarked that it would be more like a cup final than regular league game.
“The pressure will keep growing until kickoff, but it feels good to be in charge and to manage my team in a game like this,” he said.
ESSENTIALS: Lazio will be without defender Giuseppe Brava and midfielder Honorato Ederson on Sunday. Both players are injured.
Roma are still without backup goalkeeper Bogdan Lobont, while number-one goalkeeper Maarten Stekelenburg is probable despite an injury. Forward Mattia Destro is suspended.
KEY BATTLE: Erik Lamela is one of the form attackers in Italy right now, and on Sunday the Roma forward will once again line up on the right-hand side of Zeman’s three-pronged attack. He’ll be going up against Lazio left-back Senad Lulic, and winger Stefano Mauri will likely be doing some marking duty on the Argentine as well.
FORMATIONS: Petkovic will start a 4-4-2 with Miroslav Klose and Tommaso Rocchi up front and Mauri and Antonio Condreva working the flanks. Zeman will deploy his favoured 4-3-3 formation with Lamela, Francesco Totti and Pablo Osvaldo across the top.
BETLINE: Lazio 6/4; Draw 13/5; AS Roma 8/5. Lazio did the double over Roma last season, winning both matches at Stadio Olimpico by 2-1 scorelines.