AS Roma 1-1 Lazio
So, who is the real power in Rome? Well, based on this Lazio still have the Serie A edge but it was very much honours even in the Derby Della Capitale.
Fans outside of the Italian capital may indeed wonder what exactly this means to those involved.
To give you an indication, more than a thousand fans flocked to the Roma training ground 24 hours before kick-off to motivate their players. The reaction of Lazio’s Luis Alberto to being substituted midway through the second period was merely a further confirmation of just how much this matters.
This derby is one of the most passionately felt matches in world football and history suggested a feisty encounter
As for Serie A highlights in this fourth versus third clash, we expected fireworks, this fixture has seen 24 red cards since 2000, at least two more than any other fixture in Europe’s top five leagues.
There were none on this occasion but tensions were always on the edge at the Stadio Olimpico.
Highlights of the game
Roma’s last home game had seen them make a disastrous start from which they never quite recovered and could ill afford a repeat.
Italian Cup holders Lazio had been knocked out in midweek and were keen to bounce back.
The hosts’ morale must have been boosted by the news they were on the verge of signing Barcelona winger Carles Perez on loan with obligation to buy for €13 million – the Giallorossi have been on the lookout for an attacking player since Nicolò Zaniolo’s season-ending injury against Juventus two weeks ago.
Meanwhile, speculation was strong that one-time Man Utd winger Adnan Januzaj could be joining them from Real Sociedad.
Yet this is a Lazio side confident in its own abilities.
On a club record run of 11 consecutive Serie A victories, with Ciro Immobile the runaway Capocannoniere, they clearly relished making it 12.
The Lazio motto in recent years has been La Prima Squadradella Capitale – the first team in the Capital. This refers to the fact they were founded before rivals AS Roma, but have historically always been considered the smaller club, in terms of fanbase, success and influence.
Boss Simone Inzaghi urged his team to ‘keep a clear head’ under pressure, while the hosts were boosted by the return to the squad of Diego Perotti and Javier Pastore, not ready to start but on the bench.
Surprisingly, Alessandro Florenzi and Aleksandar Kolarov were dropped in favour of Davide Santon and Leonardo Spinazzola.
The pressure may have got to two performers judging on an eight-minute period midway through the first half as Edin Dzeko made the most of a goalkeeping error to put Roma in front before Pau Lopez gifted Lazio the equaliser with a bizarre howler.
First, visiting keeper Thomas Strakosha came to meet a hopeful ball forward but stopped and collided with his own defenders and Dzeko cleverly headed home into an empty net with his back to goal.
It could easily have been two when Dzeko followed-up a Cengiz Under shot which was desperately closed down by defenders.
Then, following a corner, home shot-stopper Lopez punched the ball high before it came down, touching the underside of the bar and the top of Chris Smalling’s head before Francesco Acerbi tapped in the equaliser from close range.
When on-loan home defender Smalling provided an interesting and accurate perspective in the build-up to this one, highlighting the clear divide, he would surely not have expected two such errors on both sides inside the opening half.
Team-mate Lorenzo Pellegrini thought he had restored Roma’s lead on the stroke of half-time with a curling shot which thumped the far post.
Into the second period and Jordan Veret outfired just wide, VAR correctly overturned a penalty award after Justin Kluivert collided with Patric, the at-times shaky Strakosha saved with his face from Dzeko and then denied the Bosnian three more times as the hosts made most of the running in the second period.
But there was to be no winner and the sides shared the points, just as they had earlier this season when Kolarov and Alberto traded goals.
The SBOTOP Serie A still suggest Lazio have a good chance for a Champions League place next season. The jury remains out on Roma.
Roma have won 23 out of their 58 clashes with Lazio. Fourteen of the Giallorossi victories came at home. Lazio have won 17 of the encounters with the other 18 matches ending all square.
Roma haven’t failed to score in a ‘home’ derby against their city rivals since a 0-0 draw in April 2007.
The Giallorossi have a definite edge in league meetings, winning 54 and losing 38, with 11 wins and eight draws in their last 21 home derbies.
It’s back to Serie A action next weekend with Roma travelling to Sassuolo (February 1) before hosting Bologna six days later.
Lazio have two home league matches in four days, entertaining SPAL on February 2 followed by Verona (Feb 5).
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