One of the most highly anticipated fixtures on the Serie A calendar falls on Sunday as Lazio and Roma go head-to-head in the first Derby della Capitale of the new campaign. Let’s look at our match preview for this contest.

Consistency issues have plagued Lazio’s effort to replicate last season’s impressive runner-up finish in Serie A. Pieces seemed to have finally started to fall into place when Ciro Immobile’s last-minute penalty inspired Biancocelesti to a dramatic 1-0 win over Fiorentina in their last home league outing. 

However, mustering just one shot on target inevitably led to another underwhelming result last Friday as Lazio slumped to a 1-0 defeat at Bologna. Maurizio Sarri’s side finished on the winning end of that scoreline in midweek Champions League action against Feyenoord, significantly bolstering their chances of progression. 

Fluctuating between victories (3) and defeats (2) in five competitive games in the build-up to this mouth-watering fixture hardly makes for interesting reading if you’re a Lazio fan. But thankfully for the nominal hosts, Roma’s recent form has spiraled into chaos, with Jose Mourinho’s men losing twice in their last three outings across all competitions.

While narrowly succumbing to a 1-0 loss at Inter in Serie A wasn’t the end of the world, Giallorossi’s shameful performance at the Fortuna Arena on Thursday raised more than a few eyebrows as Slavia Prague obliterated the Italian outfit 2-0. If there’s any upside, Roma’s bid to reach the Europa League knockouts has barely taken a scratch. 

Match Preview

Lazio

Lazio’s track record after the opening 11 Serie A matchdays remains perfectly balanced (W5, D1, L5). None of their last six league matches have ended level (W4, L2), but both defeats came against sides fighting for the European spots. Indeed, Milan and Bologna put Sarri’s team to the sword without letting them get on the scoresheet.

Goals have been at a premium for Lazio this season. They’ve averaged just 1.18 goals per game in Serie A. But there’s a silver lining. After back-to-back winless home league fixtures at the start of the campaign (D1, L1), they’ve won their last three at the Stadio Olimpico, two of which ‘to nil.’

Since they’ve not scored more than once in their last three top-flight meetings with Roma, staying tight and compact at the back could be a recipe for success.

Player to Watch: Ciro Immobile

It must be him! The Lazio talisman has scored the winners in his side’s last two competitive triumphs and looks to be hitting his stride following an injury-hit start to the season. 

Roma

Following an emphatic five-match winning streak, things are starting to get out of hand, with Roma held goalless twice in their last three matches. Mourinho must stem the bleeding, and what better way to embark on a renaissance project than beating arch-rivals? Playing at the Olimpico bodes well.

Despite being nominal visitors in this contest, Mourinho’s men ought to feel safe here, knowing they’ve won their last six competitive games on home turf. Six of those wins were without conceding. That said, Roma have lost four out of six Serie A clashes against Lazio as nominal visitors (D2) since 2016, including the last three on the trot.

Player to Watch: Romelu Lukaku

Lukaku might have been the missing piece to tilt the scales in Roma’s favor. The Belgian striker has been in superb form this season, while his last-gasp winner fired Giallorossi to a 2-1 home triumph over Lecce last weekend.

Team News

Lazio will be without several significant first-team stars. Adam Marusic, Nicolo Casale, Mattia Zaccagni, and Luis Alberto remain on the sidelines with injuries. The latter duo’s absence will likely force a major formation tweak.

As for Roma, Chris Smalling, Tammy Abraham, Lorenzo Pellegrini, Leonardo Spinazzola, and Marash Kumbulla are still out. There’s a question mark over Nicola Zalewski’s head, but he’s more likely to make the matchday squad than not.

Lazio vs Roma Potential Lineups

Lazio (4-3-3): Ivan Provedel; Elseid Hysaj, Alessio Romagnoli, Patric, Manuel Lazzari; Daichi Kamada, Matias Vecino, Matteo Guendouzi; Felipe Anderson, Pedro, Ciro Immobile.

Roma (3-5-2): Rui Patricio; Gianluca Mancini, Diego Llorente, Evan Ndicka; Zeki Celik, Edoardo Bove, Bryan Cristante, Leandro Paredes, Stephan El Shaarawy; Paulo Dybala, Romelu Lukaku.

Lazio vs Roma Prediction

A narrow 1-0 scoreline decided both last season’s meetings between Lazio and Roma, with each side winning their ‘home’ fixture, respectively. Considering Biancocelesti’s recent proclivities for low-scoring contests and Mourinho’s well-documented conservative approach in these high-stakes duels, we can envisage a tight game.

Prediction: Draw

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