An injured wolf is wandering over the hills of Rome, its wounds are superficial, but it needs time to heal. All the time, an eagle circles above, waiting and hoping that the wolf is eventually weak enough so that it can ultimately feast.
Lazio really are looking down on Roma in the Serie A table, and as the Derby Della Capitale approaches this afternoon, they will certainly be hoping that, despite a midweek resurgence from the Giallorossi, they can still deal them a hammer blow that could send their enemy’s season into turmoil.
The Biancocelesti missed out in qualifying for the Champions League in heart breaking style in the final moments last term, after an excellent campaign. They have a forward thinking, young and innovative Coach in Simone Inzaghi and as Lotito pointed out, they have an excellent youth system and have promoted five players from this this term. The fanbase, perhaps like the President, are often criticised for the right reasons, but they are some of the most passionate and loyal in the country.
It is with this backdrop that this season they have once again impressed. After losing to Napoli and Juventus in their opening two rounds (no shame in that), they have won four league games and a Europa League fixture scoring 10 goals and conceding three. Ciro Immobile has three goals to his name and Sergej Milinkovic-Savic is playing well, so why shouldn’t they be confident before the Derby?
On the flip side, Roma have been having a torrid time of late. If one can agree that Javier Pastore’s patented back heels are not going to be enough to bring them success, then they have issues to work on.
The first thing that has been thrown at Roma this term is the transfer policy. Alisson, Radja Nainggolan and Kevin Strootman all departed. Alisson was definitely a loss, especially as Robin Olsen showed quickly that he didn’t have the same ability with the ball at his feet. Saying this, he is a very capable goalkeeper and is still growing into the role, just as Wojciech Szczesny and Alisson had to do. Nainggolan certainly wasn’t at his best last term, so that isn’t an excuse, and Strootman wasn’t present enough at the levels he used to play at before the injury, so what is going on?
Eusebio Di Francesco is certainly trying to get his younger squad into the shape and system he wants, but there are flaws. Lorenzo Pellegrini hasn’t been performing at the levels he can, Daniele De Rossi is a year older and Bryan Cristante is improving but all of this takes time. Edin Dzeko and arguably Cengiz Under are the only real goal threats and the likes of Justin Kluivert and Nicolò Zaniolo are still learning their trade.
It’s a team that is in transition, but whilst they are doing so, the question remains whether the likes of Pastore, Diego Perotti, Patrik Schick and Aleksandar Kolarov, are strong enough to pull them through? With their only wins coming against Torino (last gasp) and flailing Frosinone, they have not performed.
For Lazio, this is the perfect time to play Roma in the Derby. Di Francesco is under pressure, that is for sure. James Pallotta recently branded a defeat as “disgusting” and it seems that the attention is on how quickly they can turn this around. Di Francesco will, one imagines, be given time. The project with Monchi has been seen as long-term and they are hoping that, as the Roma Coach said, the win at Frosinone was a turning point.
What Lazio have the chance to do is gain an important Derby victory and at the same time heap pressure on the Roma project. That really would be a killer blow.