This is it, ladies and gents. The Derby Della Capitale. European placement is important, sure, and so is Roma’s continued fight for a Europa League title, but winning this match each year will always hold special importance for Romanisti. It doesn’t matter if Roma is in 20th place or 1st, if Lazio are knocking on relegation’s door or a lock for the Scudetto; this match is a point of pride.
Speaking of placement on the table, Lazio’s had a bit of a rough season so far. Eighth place isn’t as bad as it looks considering how tight certain parts of the table are right now, but still, for a club that looked to be jockeying for the Scudetto last season, there’s certainly been a drop in form. If you want a deeper analysis of what’s been going wrong with I Biancocelesti, take a look at Steven’s interview of Jerry Mancini, but suffice it to say that any short-, medium-, and long-term issues Lazio might be having probably go out the window for this match. Even in the Age of COVID-19, this match lights up the entire city of Rome. We’ll see how
Lazio vs. Roma: January 15th. 14:45 CET/2:45 EST. Stadio Olimpico, Roma.
What To Watch For
Can Fonseca Win The Derby?
We’ve talked about Paulo Fonseca’s lack of success against bigger sides ad nauseam here at Chiesa di Totti, and his record against Lazio can also be lumped into that larger story. So far with the Giallorossi, Fonseca has never won a match against Lazio; to be fair, he hasn’t lost any either, with all of his matches against Le Aquile ending as draws. If there was a moment for Fonseca to break that trend of draw after draw against Lazio, now would be the time; we’ll see if he’s up to the challenge.
Rotation After Inter, Or More Of The Same?
This week has been an important one for Roma, with the 2-2 draw against Inter being just as critical for the Giallorossi’s Champions League hopes as this derby. That match didn’t really see too much rotation in the squad, and one could argue that that lack of rotation led to critical players like Jordan Veretout, Edin Džeko and Roger Ibañez looking less than their usual selves, particularly in the second half.
I doubt that Fonseca will institute that much rotation in the side considering the importance of this match, but I’d be interested in seeing Max Kumbulla get the start over Ibañez this time. When Roma were without Chris Smalling at the start of the season, the Albanian international stepped up big time, providing a Peak Fazio-like level of calm in Roma’s defense. There’s a good reason that he’s Roma’s fourth center-back right now: Smalling, Mancini, and Ibañez have all been excellent so far this season. Even so, I’m hoping to see Kumbulla get a similar level of opportunity as Gonzalo Villar; they could both be critical parts of the Giallorossi lineup for the next decade.
Villar Versus The Big Boys
Speaking of Gonzalo Villar, what a season he’s been having. When he’s started for the Giallorossi, he’s earned an average of a 7.2 rating from WhoScored, showing off his passing and dribbling skills and essentially turning Amadou Diawara into an afterthought. Even so, memories of Cengiz Ünder’s explosive first season with Roma (and subsequent return to Earth) make me hesitant to dub Villar The Next Big Thing just yet. A star turn in the derby would silence all my doubts, though, and considering his excellent performance against Inter on Sunday, I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Spaniard excel tomorrow.
Who will win this match for Roma?
This poll is closed
Nobody (draw or loss incoming)