Takeaways from Lazio's Clash with AS Roma
The Derby della Capitale finished 0-0 in Rome, putting a serious dent into any hopes that Roma may have had about catching Juventus in first place in Serie A.
It was a game that Roma should have won, but in the end Lazio left the Olimpico with a share of the spoils and a valuable point.
The hosts were extremely well-prepared for the Roma onslaught and dealt with the visitors' attacking threat perfectly, stifling key players and controlling the dynamic midfield so as to limit its influence.
What can we take away from the game?
Roma Need to Become Ruthless
It's a strange thing to say about a team associated with free-flowing football and lob-sided score lines, but Roma need to find a killer edge to deal with games like these.
The Giallorossi were superior in almost every sense against Lazio but wasted too many solid opportunities to put the game past their hosts.
It's a sentiment echoed by Rudi Garcia. The French coach told the Italian media (here via goal.com):
We had a serious match, to win this you have to be the best until the end and the last pass and we missed this. We have to settle for a point and we have to be more decisive in front of goal. We controlled it when we should have shot, we shot when we could have controlled it.
Looking at the table, this draw is fine, but that's it. Sometimes the team who dominates the game does something wrong going forward, and we have to improve there.
I don't think we were tired after the Coppa Italia. On the physical side, I saw us playing with energy. We simply didn't make good choices in front of goal. Now we have to think about the Coppa Italia and rest because Napoli have an extra day's rest.
Balde Diao Keita Is Still Far from the Finished Article
After his sublime performance against Chievo Verona, there was a lot of talk about Balde Diao Keita. The Spain-born Senegalese forward scored a goal and logged an assist in the game, earning Man of the Match and plenty of plaudits.
It wasn't the first impressive showing from the 18-year-old in a Lazio shirt. The former Barcelona player has shown flashes of brilliance in the league and in Europe, but against Roma he showed why it would be hasty for the Aquile faithful to expect too much too soon.
Before being replaced by Stefano Mauri, Keita was anonymous for much of the game and looked very much like a teenager out of his depth.
Games like this provide every young player with invaluable experience, and it would be unfair to judge him by the same standards as you might a fully developed player. But there is a danger that he might be expected to make a serious senior contribution too soon at Lazio, either because people choose to trust in his obvious potential or because the club's limited budgets mean that there simply isn't enough quality elsewhere to make a difference.
For the player's sake, let's hope he gets more time.
Maicon Continues to Impress
Signing a full-back in his 30s and without a truly top-class performance to his name in a couple of years raised a few eyebrows back in the summer. It shouldn't have. Maicon continues to be one of Roma's best players, and the 32-year-old was the standout man for the Giallorossi in this derby.
For whatever reason, things didn't work out for the former Inter man at Manchester City, but it obviously wasn't fading fitness or waning powers that let him down. He's looked imperious for Roma this term, both going forward and at the back when called upon to defend.
At this rate, an important role at this summer's World Cup looks all but inevitable.
Edy Reja Knows What He Wants
Lazio fans will know not to expect any champagne football from Edy Reja. The veteran coach has never been known for an attractive approach to the game—but he knows how to make things difficult.
The Aquile had no shots on target and only two attempts all game. They had less possession, completed twice as many fouls as the guests and only succeeded with a little under two-thirds of their passes. And yet, for all Roma's artistry, the two clubs from the Italian capital shared the spoils.
Rudy Garcia might claim the moral victory by virtue of the fact that his side always tries to play nice football, but it will be his rival on the Lazio bench who'll have left the Olimpico the happier man.
Etrit Berisha Is a Quality Keeper
Etrit Berisha had a solid game. The 24-year-old Albanian saved fine efforts from Maicon, Francesco Totti and Gervinho to keep his side in the game.
The well-marshalled Lazio defence kept him out of trouble for much of the second half, but nonetheless he can be happy at keeping one of Europe's most potent sides at bay.