Much of the focus this weekend will be on Saturday’s El Clasico tie. That’s perfectly understandable, but there is also another huge derby in store as well. The Derby della Capitale (“Capital Derby”) may not gather as much buzz as Barcelona vs. Real Madrid as there is no Lionel Messi or Cristiano Ronaldo, but games between Lazio and Roma are just as highly anticipated.
Clashes between the Giallorossi and the Biancocelesti are always a passionate affair and the 165th official edition will take place this Sunday. And if history is any precedent, viewers should be in for a spicy treat at the Stadio Olimpico. Although the historic venue is not likely to be packed, and half full may even be a stretch due to ongoing protests, there are still plenty of reasons not to miss out on Sunday’s Derby della Capitale.
Here are a few of them.
1. Two high-flying (and pretty high-scoring) sides
Only one point divides second-placed Roma and fourth-placed Lazio at the start of the upcoming round. The two sides are only split by AC Milan, who sit in third, and Atalanta, who are joint-tied with Lazio on 28 points, both play before the Lupi and the Aquile. Hence, one – or both – teams may find themselves down a few places heading into this game.
The Biancocelesti haven’t lost a match in over two months, when they were beaten 2-0 by the Rossoneri on September 20th. Since then, Simone Inzaghi’s men have gone on a nine-game unbeaten streak (W6, D3) and have quietly moved up the table into contention for a Champions League berth. Meanwhile, Roma suffered a surprise loss to an Atalanta side punching well above their weight, but Luciano Spalletti’s men have been banging in the goals left and right both in the league and on the continent. Roma’s 33 goals (an average of over 2 per match) make them the highest scoring side in the division. And Lazio, with 27, are no slouches themselves. Only Torino (31) and Juventus (29) have netted more than Simone Inzaghi’s side so far.
2. An exciting, promising young manager…who has his own history in this fixture
Lazio are currently led by Simone Inzaghi, who nearly didn’t even have the chance to manage the squad. Although the ex-striker took over from Stefano Pioli after his sacking following a drubbing by Roma, he was overlooked for a permanent position at the end of last season. Rather, the club decided to go with ex-Marseille boss Marcelo Bielsa.
Turns out that Bielsa, however, did not want to uphold his end of the agreement. So, the Aquile had to do a rather abrupt U-turn before the start of the season. And fortunately for Lazio, Inzaghi didn’t hold any grudges about being initially snubbed for the position. Curiously enough, despite being Lazio’s top goal-scorer in European competitions, the younger brother of Pippo never scored in a Derby della Capitale. What better way to get some revenge than to earn his first ever derby win as a manager – even if he’s not the one scoring the goals? Lazio, meanwhile, haven’t won this tie since May 26, 2013.
3. Roma could match an interesting record
Roma are currently seven Serie A matches sans defeat against Lazio (W4, D3). Should they make it eight, it will be the first time since April 2004. And should they outright win Sunday’s encounter, that will mark four straight derby victories for the Giallorossi. They haven’t done that since March 2011. Back then, they had won five on the trot, but the March 2011 win was their last derby victory until September 22, 2013.
4. Two previously maligned strikers eager to make a point
Both Ciro Immobile and Edin Dzeko have had impressive seasons for Lazio and Roma respectively. Immobile had a rough past few seasons after leaving Torino with Sevilla and Dortmund, but has now settled in nicely since his return to his native Italy. Meanwhile, Dzeko was the subject of much memes and criticism last term, but has silenced a lot of those doubters with 12 goals for the Lupi in Serie A. He has 17 across all comps and having scored in both derby games last term, will be eager to add more to that tally on Sunday.
5. The last time to see an icon in action?
Francesco Totti celebrated his 40th birthday two months ago. Yes, 40. The 2006 World Cup winner exemplifies the concept of a “one club” man and has been nothing but a loyal servant to Roma since making his debut over two decades ago. It’s no surprise that he is the joint all-time top goalscorer in this derby, with 11 goals to his name and has made the most appearances (41).
Although he claims he can keep on playing, it remains to be seen whether the self-styled “King of Rome” is given another one-year contract. With that in mind, fans just may be seeing him playing in his last two derbies of his long and storied career.
All in all, these facts – and plenty more – are solid reasons why not to miss out on the 165th Derby della Capitale. Right now, Lazio are backed at 19/10, to triumph and end their long wait for a victory, whilst Roma are backed at 29/20 to extend their recent advantage in this fixture.