The Derby della Capitale is here again.
Roma and Lazio will do battle in Europe's biggest game of the weekend and it is guaranteed to be an enthralling watch.
The two sides from Rome find themselves pressed together in the table, separated by only two points, in fifth and sixth position, respectively.
The Giallorossi hold the head-to-head record over the years—winning 63 of the 170 encounters since 1929, while the Biancocelesti have won 47 times. The Derby has totalled 376 goals to give us an average of 2.2 goals per match, often fluctuating from cagey encounters to goal feasts.
With Zdenek Zeman in charge of Roma it is almost impossible to think that it will be a tense and tight affair, leading many to believe that this will be an open game with both sides treating calcio fans to some terrific entertainment.
Erik Lamela has displayed just why Roma were pushed into paying River Plate €17 million for their precocious youth product and the Argentine is now the joint-second scorer in Serie A with seven goals. The iconic Francesco Totti is enjoying a renaissance and Pablo Osvaldo is one of the most explosive strikers around, which means that Roma possess one of the more potent strike forces around.
While Lazio might not be as majestic going forward, their Brazilian playmaker Hernanes is certainly worth a watch due to his wonderful range of passing and deadly accuracy from distance. Miroslav Klose is still as deadly as ever in front of goal too, scoring six times in 10 appearances this term.
Roma's attack is often said to be capable of tearing even the best defences in the league to pieces when they are all singing from the same hymn sheet. Vladimir Petkovic has some warriors at the back though, who will certainly prove to be a tough nut to crack, epitomised by one of the most physically dominating centre-backs in Europe, Andre Dias.
The midfield battle will be intriguing due to both managers probably deploying three centre-midfielders, all of whom are intelligent and productive in possession. We can expect fireworks from Daniele De Rossi and Cristian Ledesma in particular, who both tend to leave everything on the pitch.
It would not be advisable under normal circumstances for an 18-year-old centre-back to play in a game of this intensity and magnitude, but Marquinhos is proving to be mature beyond his years and will be tasked with keeping Klose quiet. A huge asset to the youngster's quick progression into the first team has been Leandro Castan, who will look to shadow his compatriot through the game, knowing that it will be the former Corinthians defender's toughest test yet.
Lazio's main contention in defence will come in terms of who will be selected, rather than whether the personnel can cope. Petkovic has the Romanian Stefan Radu available again after injury, which might push Senad Lulic into a more advanced role. If Petkovic opts for this, Lazio can offer one of the biggest threats from wide areas in the league after throwing the excellent Antonio Candreva into the mix, who tends to occupy the opposite flank.
This match has all the ingredients on the pitch to make it one of the games of the season, including top quality international players, cavalier tactics and passionate players who will always test the referee's mental strength with some juicy tackles.
Be sure to tune in to this eagerly anticipated showdown—which is ultimately crucial to both clubs' hopes of qualifying for the Champions League—it is going to be spectacular.
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