Both the Giallorossi and Biancocelesti managed victories in their midweek fixtures ahead of the big Derby della Capitale on Saturday. Yet each enter this pivotal clash having already endured the ebbs and flows the Serie A season presents. Because of this, and the current form of each respective club, there is a lot more to play for on the weekend that could perhaps be a defining moment early on in the ‘campionato.’
Starting with Lazio, beginning the campaign with two defeats to last year’s champions Juventus and runners-up Napoli would put most clubs in a hole out of the gate. But Simone Inzaghi’s well-documented growth as a manager and tactician has given him the complete confidence in the Eagles’ corner. With a very strong side, and one perhaps better equipped than last year top to bottom, Lazio will remain in the chase for top four. Even with the two losses to open the season, Inzaghi’s group have proven since then they have the right mentality to take care of the “softer” opponents the league has to offer, and could certainly target the Rome Derby as the launching point to a possible Champions League berth. After all, Lazio have narrowed the gap between them and their hated rivals over the years, where now this first Derby has major implications. But as for Roma, you can make a case the Giallorossi need a win more.
Coach Eusebio Di Francesco’s debut season ticked all the boxes and then some, with a semi-final run in the Champions League and a successful third place finish in the table However, it was one of those conventional summers for President James Pallotta, sporting director Monchi and Roma who once again sold key men.
As Roma ushered in a bevy of new faces to the fold, there is no telling how they will mesh or the amount of time it will take for Di Francesco to sort out the early season struggles.
It is early days in the championship for all. As we see with the current table, there are a few surprise overachievers with Sassuolo in fourth and SPAL even flirting with Europe. Obviously, the contenders and pretenders will soon begin to take their expected spots, but the last thing both Roma and Lazio want is to let the other upstage them in the Derby and relinquish bragging rights in the Italian capital.
In recent years, the Stadio Olimpico’s fierce rivals seem to have either been revelling in the peaks of competing at a high level, or disappointing with the valleys that come from falling short of taking the next step to challenge for top honors. Last year saw the two elevate their performance levels and, in many ways, force the best from one another.
Roma and Lazio will approach this Derby della Capitale with a winning mindset for sure, but as we all know, this is exactly the clash to alter the course of a season. A win for Roma would loom large and ease the pressure mounting on Di Francesco to prove he is the right man for the job. But with Lazio, who would love nothing more than to throw another wrench in the Lupi’s plans, a victory could swing the pendulum in their favour – and paint the city white and sky blue.