Wednesday, May 29, 2024

Roma 1-0 Lazio: Talking points as Mancini header wins Derby della Capitale for Giallorossi

Veselin Trajkovic in Editorial, Serie A 7 Apr 2024

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The Derby della Capitale was played in the Serie A at the Stadio Olimpico on Saturday, with AS Roma formally playing host to Lazio in the 31st round of the campaign. It was Roma who won the day, with a 42nd-minute header by Gianluca Mancini marking the difference between the two sides on the scoreboard.

The game

The contest was always likely to be close, but perhaps the way the game started developing from the start was a bit surprising. While a fierce battle in the middle of the park was arguably expected, with few chances, the ball actually moved rather quickly from one end of the pitch to another, and within seven minutes, both teams could’ve scored.

Roma threatened first with a lobbed drop-volley from Leandro Paredes flying just over the bar, and then a series of defensive passing mistakes from Roma allowed Lazio to create a fantastic chance for Ciro Immobile. The 34-year-old striker usually scores from such positions and he will have been disappointed with himself for only managing to hit the outside of the net.

As the game progressed, Roma were exerting more control over the proceedings and created several more chances before Mancini’s goal. They had several long-range attempts, while Diego Llorente and Zeki Celik both came close to scoring from inside the box, and Lazio defender Mario Gila almost put the ball into his own net after Stephan El Shaarawy out in an awkward low cross.

From the latter situation, Roma got a corner which was well-taken by Paulo Dybala. As Adam Marusic and Llorente grappled, Mancini escaped from Alessio Romagnoli, jumped high and slammed his header on target. Lazio goalkeeper Christos Mandas got a hand to it but wasn’t able to divert it sufficiently and Roma took the lead.

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Mandos could’ve perhaps done better, but from Lazio’s perspective, the fault was almost entirely Romagnoli’s. Tudor obviously though so too, given his decision to leave the former AC Milan man in the dressing room at the break and send Patric into the fray instead.

Lazio mostly dominated possession in the second half and ended the match with the ball belonging to them for 54% of the time, but it Roma were always closer to a second goal then they were to an equalizer. Arguably the best chance of the game fell to El Shaarawy in the 55th minute as Romelu Lukaku pulled forward with the ball through the middle, drew the Lazio defence out and sent a perfectly timed pass for his winger on the left. Running at full pace, El Shaarawy went for the near top corner from close range and hit the post.

Lazio continued pushing forward and after substitute Taty Castellanos fired rather harmlessly from range, Daichi Kamada managed to pick up a low drive from Matteo Guendouzi inside the six yards, move around Mile Svilar in the Roma goal and put the ball in the net, but the linesman quickly and rightly raised his flag to signal that the Japan international was offside.

With the five minutes of stoppage time already gone, Lazio had one final opportunity to snatch a point as they were awarded a free-kick some 10 yards into the Roma half. However, as their players crowded around the edge of the box waiting for a cross to come, Guendouzi was standing offside and Felipe Anderson inexplicably chose him as his passing target. And as Guendouzi stood off in order to avoid the offside being given, Roma took possession of the ball and referee Marco Guida blew the final whistle.

Even though there were chances at either end more goals could’ve been scored, the one-goal victory for Roma was arguably the just outcome based on what the two teams showed in the game.

Tudor’s choices

Since taking over from Maurizio Sarri a few weeks ago, Tudor has made several changes to form what he obviously feels should be the Lazio starting XI, mostly dispensing with flair in favour of tactical discipline. And in some games – the recent victory over Juventus being a very good example – it worked very well. Against the troubled Bianconeri, his chosen team did well and there were some high-quality names to come in off the bench.

However, this game against Roma developed in a different direction. The services of Luis Alberto, his creativity and skill on the ball in the middle of the park were arguably needed sooner, and yet Tudor waited 70 minutes before introducing the Spaniard in the place of Matias Vecino, whose qualities lie more with reading the game and shielding the back line than keeping the ball and getting it forward. The 20+ minutes Alberto eventually got were obviously insufficient for him to make a mark on the game.

Table rankings

The fresh three points have taken Roma’s tally up to 55 and still in fifth place, five more than Atalanta in sixth, though La Dea play their game away to Cagliari on Sunday and will still have a game in hand after that. Going into their game on Sunday against Frosinone, Bologna in fourth place held a two-point advantage over Daniele De Rossi’s team in the race for Champions League qualification, though there is still a good chance that the fifth position warrants a place in UEFA’s elite competition next season as well.

Meanwhile, Lazio remain on 46 points and their place in Europe next season is very much in doubt. The Biancocelesti are seventh, but at serious risk of being overtaken by fallen champions Napoli who travel to Monza on Sunday with a deficit of only a point.

Lazio will have a good chance to bounce back next week as they host  last-place Salernitana on Friday, before embarking on much more difficult tasks of facing Genoa away and attempting to overturn a two-goal deficit against Juventus in the second leg of their meeting in the Coppa Italia semifinals.

Roma will first look to their clash with AC Milan in the quarterfinals of the Europa League, the first leg taking place at San Siro in a few days. A league game away to Udinese follows, before Milan come to the Olimpico for the second leg.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Veselin Trajkovic


Vesko is a football writer that likes to observe the game for what it is, focusing on teams, players and their roles, formations, tactics, rather than stats. He follows the English Premier League closely, Liverpool FC in particular. His articles have been published on seven different football blogs.

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