The intense nature of derbies tends to cast all bets and form aside. Often times, these heated clashes elevate one side, deflate another, or simply leave us wondering whether the outcome will set the tone for the rest of the season. For Lazio and Roma, two clubs on the outside looking at Serie A’s top four, the latest Derby della Capitale will likely have the same effect.
Simone Inzaghi’s Lazio saw fourth slip away on the final match-day last season to Inter. Rather than use the agonising defeat as fuel for a better fate this season, the Eagles did not soar out of the gate, instead stumbling and forced into playing catch-up.
As for Roma, a side coming off an inspiring Champions League semi-final run, perhaps there are parallels to be drawn.
Similar to their Stadio Olimpico neighbours, the Giallorossi have not been able to put it all together consistently, placing much of the blame on to Coach Eusebio Di Francesco, who has been sitting on the hot seat for months.
Each had their struggles and shortcomings highlighted often, none of which are exaggerated considering the turbulent waters each travelled into last night’s derby. But we are at the stage of the season where you want to hit stride, play your best football and hope the enthralling nature of ‘calcio’ takes its course in your favour.
Last night’s 3-0 victory for Lazio showed us that the Biancocelesti may have the winning blueprint that made them a real threat throughout the 2017-18 campaign, having taken their chances, defending well under pressurised phases of the match and the sacrificial attitude required to obtain results in a high-stakes affair.
It has been said these teams lack strength in depth and losing one key player can ruin everything. Yet Lazio survived without Ciro Immobile, even if he did come off the bench for the last half-hour, whereas Roma floundered in the absence of Kostas Manolas. If ever there were still doubts as to how much the Giallorossi desperately need reinforcements at centre-back, this was the final proof.
Yet, even with the two-time Capocannoniere starting from the bench, Inzaghi’s trust in Felipe Caicedo was repaid with the opening goal that saw the pendulum swing in Lazio’s favour within the first 12 minutes.
Even at brief moments when Roma looked to steal momentum, cooler heads prevailed for Lazio, allowing them to be advantageous with some flimsy defending from Federico Fazio and put a bow on the bout with two goals in the final 17 minutes.
As the table currently shows, both Roma and Lazio are staring up at the top four, with the former holding a match in their back pocket. Milan moved clear of Inter for sole possession of third, but with 12 remaining rounds, the pathway into the Champions League remains wide open when accounting for the volatile nature of the league.
Roma left the Olimpico disappointed and in disbelief, while Lazio’s emphatic win hopes to spark the club, alter the mood amongst Laziali in the Champions League race and become the defining moment of the season. That is, of course, if it results in redemption.