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A View from the Curva Nord: Lazio Q&A with Nick Dianni of Kicks and Picks Podcast

My cohost from the Kicks and Picks podcast joins me to fill us in on all things Lazio and to give his take on tomorrow’s derby.

Football Serie A Roma-Lazio Photo by Massimo Insabato/Archivio Massimo Insabato/Mondadori Portfolio via Getty Images

With under 24 hours until tomorrow’s Derby della Capitale, anticipation will be growing on both sides of the Olimpico, across the city of Rome, and around the world. As Romanisti, we love nothing more than beating the Lupi’s cross-stadium rivals. And a win against Lazio could be huge in springboarding Roma after a rough start to the season.

However, the same can be said for Maurizio Sarri’s Lazio. Things have been just as bleak in the Biancoceleste part of the nation’s capital through the first 11 weeks of the season. These mutual slow starts have made tomorrow's match into a sort of desperation derby. A win could kickstart a turnaround for Roma or Lazio, while a loss could send either side into a real downward spiral.

So, while we’re all well aware of the ills plaguing Roma this season, we may not be as well versed on what’s troubling her Eternal City rivals. To get a perspective on Lazio’s season so far, I turned to my co-host Nick Dianni of the Kicks and Picks podcast.

Here’s what he said to say about Roma’s rivals and for an in-depth look at the derby from both sides, check out our Derby della Capitale preview episode.

Let’s start with Lazio’s performance through the first three months of the season. Like Roma, the Biancoceleste have underperformed in Serie A with just 16 points through 11 matches. What are the main reasons for this?

The loss of SMS for one. We always knew it was going to be massive, but the team and Sarri have struggled to cope without his presence (and timely goals). The second is lack of conditioning (and I’ll add motivation). Sarri and his usual lack of rotation are not a good match for a condensed schedule of Champions League, Coppa Italia, and Serie A.

Lazio finished top-four last season, so what’s changed this season? Was the loss of SMS that pivotal?

Ah, I got too excited with my first answer. Yes. In theory, we did good midfield business this mercato (Rovella, Kamada, Guendouzi), but it hasn’t yet come together. Rovella and Guendouzi have settled in, but it took a long time. Kamada has barely featured. Alberto carried us for a bit, but has had a few weak performances in a row. Vecino and Cataldi are just kind of…there…after good seasons last year. Oh, and our forwards aren’t scoring.

Moving to Sunday’s match, how do you expect Sarri to approach this one, given his advantage over Mourinho in the last two seasons?

I’ve been one of his most vocal critics (and I believe for good reason), but as you mentioned, he seems to get the best out of his team in the bigger matches. They both have been talking wild shit in the press all week. That’s step one. Given how Roma have played lately, I actually expect Lazio to try and control more of the ball than they usually do. We’ll need to get our wingers more involved than they have been all season and force the ball into the box. Sounds simple, but the more possession the better for this game.

Do you see this match playing out similar to last season’s 1-0 Lazio victories or two seasons ago when there were eight combined goals in the two derbies?

Hoping for (and betting on) more goals this game. I like both teams to get on the scoresheet. I think with the slow starts for both, we will all want points in this one, but won’t be incentivized to sit back and hope for a counter or a draw. This should be the most wide open derby of the Sarri/Mourinho era.

Given the state of the two clubs at the moment, who needs to win more?

Both. But I’ll say Lazio. Finishing above Roma is about all we have to play for this year - and a hope to get back into and stay in the top 6. Cannot be achieved without pulling out results, and soon.

Looking at personnel, are there any one-on-one matchups that you’re focusing on? Who needs to step up for Lazio to take all three points? And who for Roma is the key to Mourinho’s men snapping a two-match losing streak to Lazio?

Alberto needs to take advantage of Roma’s injuries in MF. Our strikers need goals. I don’t care if it's Ciro or Taty - we need contributions out of the forward position. For Roma, it has to be Lukaku. He has been outstanding and will like his chances against a (so far) weaker Lazio backline than last season.

Our podcast Kicks & Picks focuses on the betting side of Calcio. What are you seeing from the books that may tell a story of how they see this one playing out? Are there any numbers you’d recommend our readers to target if they bet?

See above. Both teams to score are sitting at (-115) - this is one of my official plays for this weekend. I also think the team totals, or even the overall total for this game, should be in play. Goals!

Lastly, dare to make a prediction?

Every time I predict Lazio to lose, they win. So let’s stick with that. The odds favor Roma, and that tells a story. 2-1 Roma. Fun Game. Good luck to all!

Thanks again to Nick for taking the time to give us some insight on Lazio. Be sure to check out our complete preview above or on all audio pod platforms.