With the Derby della Capitale arriving quicker than usual this season, I wanted to try and get a read on our eternal rivals. With only one match in the books so far there’s no much to go off of, so I thought there was no better way than to get an insider’s perspective. Jerry Mancini (@jmancini8), who writes for The Laziali (@The_Laziali) was kind enough to answer some questions about his favorite team and the derby in particular. We started with some Lazio specific questions before heading into the derby.
JM- After having a good season in 2017-2018, followed by a disappointing season in 2018-2019, I’m expecting Lazio to have a better season. Simone Inzaghi is returning as coach, which is great to see, as he’s done a very good job since becoming manager of the club. He’s won a Coppa Italia and continues to progress. As for the squad, Ciro Immobile, Luis Alberto, and Sergej Milinkovic-Savic remaining with the club was important, as the three are important to Lazio. If any those three of these players were to leave, it would have made it more difficult this season for Lazio.
Acquiring Manuel Lazzari from Spal will help the club this season, as he’s something that Lazio missed a lot last season. He will provide crosses, passing and the ability to move the ball up the right side, something that Adam Marusic and Romulo struggled to do last season. Overall I expect a competitive squad this season who will be competing for the fourth spot in the standings.
2. What do you see as the strengths and weaknesses of the Lazio this season?
JM- This season, I see the wing position to be stronger compared to last year with the additions of Manuel Lazzari and Jony Rodriquez. They will give Simone Inzaghi more to use in games. Specifically Lazzari, as he’s the perfect fit for Inzaghi’s 3-5-2 formation. Lazzari prefers to play high, can get back to the defense, his abilty to cross the ball into the box, make good passes and beat his opponents one-on-one will fit well. The addition of Denis Vavro was also good, as it provides depth in the central defensive midfield.
The team still lacks a back up striker for Ciro Immobile as Felipe Caicedo hasn’t officially signed a new contract and if he doesn’t the club should consider the signing someone before the transfer market closes. The club doesn’t want to be dependent on Immobile all season as that is a risky move. Another left back would be helpful as Stefan Radu is not getting younger. While Lazio used Bastos last season and he was decent in that position, another player who could play left back would be ideal.
3. Which players have to excel in order for Lazio to meet or exceed those expectations?
JM- Ciro Immobile, Luis Alberto and Sergej Milinkovic-Savic will need to meet expectations if Lazio is to have a chance at qualifying for the Champions League this season. Last year, all three had below average seasons, whereas the season before all three players had career highs and produced substantially. Sergej Milinkovic-Savic was inconsistent throughout the season going through games where the midfielder failed to score and play up to his standards. Meanwhile, Luis Alberto dealt with many injuries and his form didn’t look to be good throughout the season. As for Ciro, his first half of the season was productive, but it cooled down in the second half of the season as the striker had a hard time finding the back of the net. I also think Correa will have a breakout season and could become a key to CL qualification.
4. I think it’s impressive that Lotito and Co. have been able to hang onto Serej Milinkovic-Savic while other Italian teams like Roma have had to sell prized assets to satisfy Financial Fair Play. What’s been the key to Lazio’s mercato in recent years?
JM- Tare has always been patient in the market and always takes chances on young talent at a low cost. Tare does a good job scouting and being patient. He doesn’t overreact to the market and keeps things very quiet. Lazio is a club which doesn’t overspend on players and is cost efficient. Many will say if you don’t spend how can you compete, well with Lazio the club has done a good job understanding who they buy and how they will fit into the team’s plans. Players such as Sergej Milinkovic-Savic and Luis Alberto were brought over at a young age and have paid off for the club.
5. From an outsider’s perspective, what do you think of Roma’s hires of Petrachi and Fonseca and their work on the mercato?
JM- Monchi’s time with the club left Roma not being in the best situation. Petrachi’s time with the club so far has been good. He helped avoid the club from going into FFP, while bringing in young players such as Gianluca Mancini and Leonardo Spinnazola. Both fit Fonseca’s style of play and were cost efficient deals. They also brought young goalie Pau Lopez who will definitely be an upgrade to Olsen. Olsen was poor last season costing Roma many games, so Lopez will be a welcome addition for Roma fans.
Fonseca will be exciting to watch this season as he prefers an offensive attack with his team playing high up the field. I expect Roma to be exciting to watch this upcoming season.
6. Like most Roma and Lazio fans, the derby is always a game I circle on the calendar. Does the timing of this derby change your feelings or expectations for the match?
JM- The timing of the derby does change my feelings towards the match. The derby has normally been played later in the season which would build anticipation towards the game. This year it will be coming fast. Even with the game coming quickly though, it will still be an exciting game to watch. The derby is always entertaining and should be no different this time around.
7. Favorite derby memory from a Lazio perspective?
JM- When Lazio beat Roma in the finals of the 2013 Coppa Italia. Senad Lulic scoring the winner will always be the most memorable goal, as it won the Coppa Italia for the Biancoceleste.
8. Looking ahead to Sunday, Lazio are favored, but what scares you about Roma?
JM- Roma’s ability to move up-field very quickly. They are fast and move the ball very quickly. Roma’s offense could cause a lot of problems if they are to play like they did against Genoa. I feel their counter attack can impose a threat for Lazio.
9. Lastly, prediction for the match?
JM- I’m expecting a high scoring game this Sunday as both clubs showed their ability to score last weekned. Roma’s defense might be the difference in this game, as it looked shaky against Genoa and had a hard time holding the lead three times. Lazio looked like a complete team against Sampdoria and Simone Inzaghi seems to have his team already playing on a higher level. Lazio will win 2-1 with goals coming from Ciro Immobile, and Joaquin Correa while Dzeko will score for Roma.
Thanks again to Jerry for spending the time to answer some questions prior to the derby.