In Sunday’s Derby della Capitale, old rivals Roma and Lazio meet at Stadio Olimpico, separated by just one point and one position in the Serie A rankings.
The Giallorossi have taken the lead in the Italian top division after 12 matches, while their Biancocelesti colleagues have lost twice in the previous few days, ending a remarkable run of play.
In Roma’s case, they are now bound for a playoff against one of the Champions League drop-outs, after finishing second in Group C.
Ten points adrift of leaders Napoli despite Monday’s win over Hellas Verona, the Giallorossi sit fourth in Serie A; ahead of not only Lazio but also Inter and Juventus.
Having won 3-0 in the most recent meeting with their city rivals, back in March, Roma have lost just two of their last 24 league games against them as ‘hosts’ – and none since April 2017.
While Lazio have lost four of their last five derbies as the ‘away’ side at the Olimpico, this season they have joined Roma in being among the clubs to have most improved their points tally compared to this time last year.
Requiring just a point at De Kuip on Thursday, the Aquile’s wings were clipped by Feyenoord, who went ahead midway through the second half and managed to pip Sarri’s men to a place in the top two.
Lazio therefore drop into the Europa Conference League after finishing third, despite ending level on points with all three of their opponents.
After making some changes in their midweek win over Ludogorets, for Sunday’s derby, Roma should revert to their strongest side, which would see Andrea Belotti drop to the bench and Nicolo Zaniolo rewarded for a bright substitute performance on Thursday.
Following his late intervention versus Verona, the Giallorossi’s Cristian Volpato (born in 2003) is the youngest player to have both scored and provided an assist in Serie A this season: on Sunday the Australia-born forward will be 18 years and 356 days old, and could become the second-youngest Rome Derby scorer.
Mourinho’s fellow ex-Chelsea coach Maurizio Sarri also has some significant absentees, as Ciro Immobile will miss the big occasion – though he could now be back before the World Cup break – and Sergej Milinkovic-Savic’s booking last week means the Serbian star will have to watch on from the stands.
Since Sarri joined Lazio last year, Milinkovic-Savic has missed only one of 50 Serie A matches; also due to suspension.
His absence will probably be covered by Luis Alberto, with Felipe Anderson stepping into Immobile’s boots as a ‘false nine’ up front.
Mattia Zaccagni and ex-Giallorosso Pedro should join the latter in the Aquile’s attacking triumvirate, while young Matteo Cancellieri is also available from the bench.
Possible starting lineup:
|Patricio, Rui||Provedel, Ivan|
|Smalling, Chris||Marusic, Adam|
|Ibanez, Roger||Romagnoli, Alessio|
|Spinazzola, Leonardo||Milinkovic-Savic, Sergej|
|Pellegrini, Lorenzo||Zaccagni, Mattia|
|Cristante, Bryan||Cataldi, Danilo|
|Matic, Nemanja||Lazzari, Manuel|
|Abraham, Tammy||Vecino, Matias|
|Dybala, Paulo||Anderson, Felipe|
|Zalewski, Nicola||Immobile, Ciro|
Roma = 24.7%
Draw = 21.6%
Lazio = 53.7%
Roma 1-1 Lazio
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