MX23RW : Tuesday, June 22 06:19:26| >> :120:59847:59847:
May 15, 2021 at 7.45pm UK at Stadio Olimpico
Mkhitaryan (42'), Pedro (78')
Peres (16'), Santon (47')
FT(HT: 1-0)

Acerbi (23')
Acerbi (87')

Preview: Roma vs. Lazio - prediction, team news, lineups

Sports Mole previews Saturday's Serie A clash between Roma and Lazio, including predictions, team news and possible lineups.

Eternal rivals Roma and Lazio go head-to-head on the Stadio Olimpico stage on Saturday, as the Derby della Capitale is set to prove decisive in both clubs' European aspirations.

While Simone Inzaghi's Biancocelesti are still outsiders in the race for a top-four finish when Serie A climaxes next weekend, their bitterest foes have faltered badly of late and could even miss out on continental qualification completely.

Match preview

Lazio head coach Simone Inzaghi pictured on January 15, 2021© Reuters

Always one of the most fiercely-fought encounters in Calcio, the Rome Derby traditionally hosts intense displays of love and loathing from fans on both sides of the capital divide. However, supporters will be absent again on Saturday evening, as the pair clash for the final time this term.

Last season, when Lazio also finished well ahead of their Olimpico co-tenants in the Serie A standings, both games between the sides ended 1-1. When their epic rivalry was renewed earlier this year, the Aquile ruthlessly slayed Roma 3-0 and both teams have followed very different trajectories since.

Following their Champions League exit to Bayern Munich in mid-March, Lazio have won seven of their nine league outings; leaving them six points adrift of a return to Europe's elite competition, but still with a game in hand on the sides just above them - Napoli and Juventus.

The Biancocelesti's home form has been stellar in 2021, as a midweek win over Serie B-bound Parma saw their remarkable run of success in Rome extend to 12 consecutive Serie A games.

In their last six outings at the Olimpico, they have also registered goals at a stunning rate of three per game, so even though they are nominally the away team on Saturday, Inzaghi's men should be imbued with the confidence that home advantage clearly brings. Having historically won only 39 Serie A meetings to Roma's 54, this current Lazio side will therefore seek to further close that gap against their currently ailing rivals.

Their performance level will have to improve, however, after a week in which they lost to struggling Fiorentina before only overcoming Parma thanks to the combination of a dramatic late save by goalkeeper Thomas Strakosha and 20-goal top scorer Ciro Immobile's subsequent injury-time winner.

With a previously postponed midweek assignment against Torino to squeeze in ahead of their final day trip to Sassuolo, the final week of action could now make or break Lazio's campaign.

Roma head coach Paulo Fonseca pictured on November 5, 2020© Reuters

After a run of six games without a win in all competitions - including several setbacks against top-flight minnows - a reeling Roma side had climbed off the canvas with back-to-back wins at Stadio Olimpico ahead of their midweek meeting with new champions Inter.

However, the Nerazzurri celebrated their Scudetto in style, as injury-hit Roma were beaten 3-1 by Antonio Conte's largely second-string selection.

Outgoing coach Paulo Fonseca again claimed full responsibility for the reverse, as his aim of at least securing a return to Europe next season slipped further into jeopardy at San Siro. In fact, Fonseca's side have now won only two of their last 10 league games to sit seventh in the table, with only a slim two-point buffer to Sassuolo heading into the penultimate round.

On target again last time out, Roma's Henrikh Mkhitaryan is one of only three midfielders in the top five European leagues to have reached double figures for both goals and assists this season, alongside Bruno Fernandes of Europa League conquerors Manchester United and Atletico Madrid's Marcos Llorente.

Given that both of his counterparts feature in sides at the sharp end of their respective leagues - and that the Armenian international has only recently returned from a spell out through injury - his achievement has been a rare highlight in an otherwise calamitous period for Roma since losing the first Derby back in January.

While his relationship with incoming manager Jose Mourinho when at United together has previously been described as "difficult", Mkhitaryan could hold the key to unlocking a suspect opposition back three on Saturday, as his own side's defensive deficiencies mean their best hope of success is probably to outscore their oldest rivals.

Certainly, even with home advantage negated by the unique circumstances in which they meet, Roma will still eagerly pursue a 13th win from 19 home games this season - if only for the satisfaction of bursting Lazio's bubble.

Roma Serie A form:
  • L
  • D
  • L
  • L
  • W
  • L

Roma form (all competitions):
  • L
  • L
  • L
  • W
  • W
  • L

Lazio Serie A form:
  • W
  • L
  • W
  • W
  • L
  • W

Team News

Roma midfielder Amadou Diawara pictured in July 2019© Reuters

Roma remain decimated by injuries ahead of the Derby, as both Chris Smalling (thigh) and fellow centre-back Federico Fazio (tonsilitis) have been out since last week, joining Amadou Diawara, Riccardo Calafiori, Jordan Veretout and Leonardo Spinazzola on the sidelines.

Recent absentee Stephan El Shaarawy plus young Spanish pair Carles Perez and Gonzalo Villar returned to the bench on Wednesday, though, and the latter is now set to compete with teenager Ebrima Darboe for a start in central midfield.

As first-choice goalkeeper Pau Lopez is out until next season after shoulder surgery, Daniel Fuzato should start again - with veteran Antonio Mirante another option.

Full-back Davide Santon was deployed in a back four versus Inter, as Paulo Fonseca has finally ditched his previously preferred 3-4-2-1 setup to cater for injuries and loss of form, so could feature once again on Saturday.

Meanwhile, Lazio will have Lucas Leiva and Andreas Pereira back from bans this weekend, so the former should slot straight back into the Biancocelesti engine room, with Danilo Cataldi the man likeliest to drop out.

Key creative force Sergej Milinkovic-Savic suffered a broken nose in last week's defeat to Fiorentina - and has subsequently undergone surgery - but will play wearing a protective mask, while fellow midfielder Gonzalo Escalante should now also be available to feature.

'Supersub' striker Felipe Caicedo (heel) and Brazilian centre-back Luiz Felipe (ankle) overcame ailments to make the bench on Wednesday, so could potentially feature in the second half if required.

Roma possible starting lineup:
Fuzato; Karsdorp, Mancini, Kumbulla, Santon; Cristante, Villar; El Shaarawy, Pellegrini, Mkhitaryan; Dzeko

Lazio possible starting lineup:
Reina; Marusic, Acerbi, Radu; Lazzari, Milinkovic-Savic, Leiva, Alberto, Lulic; Correa, Immobile

SM words green background

We say: Roma 1-1 Lazio

Roma can effectively end Lazio's aspirations of a Champions League return by holding their great rivals to a hard-fought draw on Saturday evening.

Though struggling with injuries and instability arising from the post-season departure of their coach, the Giallorossi can breach the error-prone Aquile back line at least once; avoiding their first set of back-to-back Derby defeats since 2012.

Top tip

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Manchester United goalkeeper Sergio Romero pictured in August 2020
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