As one would expect on such an occasion, the Stadio Olimpico was packed and in full voice for tonight’s Derby della Capitale between Roma and Lazio. However, the excitement and hysteria spilled over to the broadcast as the Barcelona Entertainment and Information Network’s audio feed was drowned out by tens of thousands of hostile Romans. Honestly, Richard Whittle’s commentary and passion for Roma is the only thing keeping that sinking ship afloat. beIN sucks, full stop.
Anyway, off my soapbox I hop...
Eusebio Di Francesco rolled out his usual starting eleven ahead of this match, flanking Edin Dzeko with Stephan El Shaarawy and Diego Perotti, and through the early portions of this match (to continue nautical theme), EDFs attack was leaning to the port side of the ship, focusing almost exclusively on the left wing.
Roma's attack is leaning farther to left than Noam Chomsky through five minutes... no balance— Chiesa di Totti (@chiesaditotti) November 18, 2017
As one would expect, Lazio was able to counter this tactic rather easily, marshalling their forces to that side of the pitch to cut off any would-be passing lanes for Diego Perotti or Kevin Strootman.
Roma would find a bit of balance as the first half wore on, holding 56% of the possession while completing 86% of their passes. But it wasn’t the ground game that nearly busted this one open. Whether it was Perotti or Kolarov feeding him, Dzeko came agonizingly close to scoring on three separate occasions, including an exquisite volley he picked out of mid air. But thanks to the vagaries of physics, Dzeko couldn’t find the back of the net and the match was scoreless at the half.
Well, it wouldn’t take long for this match to turn on its head. With only four minutes gone, Aleksandar Kolarov, pinned close to the touchline deep in Lazio territory, cut in across the face of the 18-yard-box, only to be taken down by the defense, resulting in this
Diego Perotti: 49th Minute
I mean, we all know Perotti is practically catanonic from the spot, but this PK was absolutely cold blooded. He literally just walked up and tapped it like he was on the 18th green.
I didn’t even have time to finish typing that sentence before Roma would double their lead three minutes later.
Radja Nainggolan: 52 Minute
RADJAAAAAAAA! GOL! GOL! GOOOOOOOL pic.twitter.com/LpsaRUoNon— RomaPress (@ASRomaPress) November 18, 2017
Nainggolan received this switch of play from Perotti with plenty space and time to make a decision as to how he’d attack the Lazio goal. As you can see, Nainggolan took a couple of quick touches to his right to evade the closing Lazio defender before unfurling a picture perfect worm burner, beating Strakosha low and away.
Since this is a derby were talking about, the penalties flowed like lava, oozing out of the cracks of this match. With an inswinging cross floating across the face of the goal like a lame duck, Kostas Manolas thought it best to use his biceps to guide the ball over the endline.
While in the run of play it looked innocent enough, VAR was consulted and a penalty was awarded, one which Ciro Immobile converted in no short order, injecting a fresh bit of froth into this match.
In order to combat the new threat, EDF made three changes in the second half, swapping off El Shaaraawy, Florenzi and Nainggolan for Gerson, Bruno Peres and Juan Jesus, respectively, shifting to what looked like a 3-5-2.
While the final 15 to 20 of this match was about as intense as they come, the ref deemed it necessary to add six minutes of stoppage time. Six minutes! Where on earth did that come from?
Fortunately for Roma, Lazio did practically nothing with those 360 extra seconds, as Roma mastered the art of wasting time.
Roma 2, Lazio 1. (Perotti 49’, Nainggolan 52’, Immobile 72’)
For those of you still suffering from Garciaitis, you probably were waiting for the other shoe to drop after Immobile converted that PK. Time heals all wounds, except ones inflicted by out of their depth French football managers.
This was a strange derby in many ways, not least of all because it was the first without Francesco Totti in 23 years, but by most measures, Roma should have won this one walking away. Had Dzeko moved time and space a bit more in the first half, Immobile’s PK would have been a small pimple on the face of a 4-1 laugher.
Despite missing a few genuine chances, this was another masterclass by EDF. Roma pulled off 16 shots to Lazio’s 12 but were far more efficient and clinical in their shot choice and quality, putting seven on target.
And that’s really the tale of the tape—Roma were more calculating in their shot selection, and more interruptive in their defense, blocking seven shots in and around the 18-yard box. Of course, in order to take a shot you have to create one, another arena in which EDFs side was dominant tonight, doubling Lazio’s creative output, 13 to 6.
With a dozen matches under their belt, Roma has the looks of a team that are finally exhibiting the tendencies and tactics of their manager, and it’s working like gangbusters. After taking the spoils from this six pointer, Roma are now level with Inter on 30 points, with the latter facing a difficult match against Atalanta tomorrow.
Things are coming together for Roma at just the right time, and tonight we got to rub it in Lazio’s face to boot.