On Sunday, AS Roma and Lazio meet in one of Italy's fiercest derbies, the Derby della Capitale. While the giallorossi faithful might still be doing their best to convince themselves that a Champions League finish is still within their reach, they sit seven points behind their capital rivals. The match carries greater significance for Lazio, who are even on points with Udinese and experiencing a bit of a roller coaster of results recently. The biancocelesti may have won the reverse fixture back in October, but if they can't pull off all three points this time around, they'll likely once again see their Champions League hopes fade away.
Despite the outcome, the Rome derby is typically great value, even if the football doesn't always match up. The passionate rivalry is evident on the pitch, with the referee rarely needing much time before reaching toward his pocket. In last year's match, won by a Francesco Totti brace, Stefan Radu and Cristian Ledesma were sent off, one after another -- Radu for headbutting Fabio Simplico, Ledesma for dissent. In October's match, it was Roma that lost their man, with Simon Kjaer handed a straight red for bringing down Christian Brocchi.
Yet as much as calcio lovers long to derive meaning from previous results, the outcome of earlier derbies will matter little for today's match. Both sides are more than capable of pulling all three points on their day -- the problem is, again for both, that their day seems to be sporadic.
Roma are coming off a rather embarrassing defeat to Atalanta, with Germán Denis's hat-trick helping the visitors on to a 4-1 win. The giallorossi did themselves no favors, either. Pablo Osvaldo was shown a straight red in the 53rd minute for an off the ball incident, kicking Luca Cigarini from behind. Marco Cassetti also was sent off for insulting the officials, leaving Roma without both men for the Derby. In happier news, it seems Daniele De Rossi will be restored to the team, after missing last week's match for being late to a team meeting. Fabio Borini, who made his debut for Italy midweek, will be looking to make his first mark on the derby, while Totti, Mr. Roma himself, will be eager to show up Lazio.
The visitors will be anxious to overcome a difficult last two weeks. They may have won against Fiorentina last weekend, with Miroslav Klose scoring the only goal, but the match was more difficult than it should have been considering the Viola's current form. The biancocelesti were also dumped out of the Europa League by Atlético Madrid, pummled 5-1 by Palermo, and, to top it all off, saw Edy Reja resign. Lazio failed to accept their manager's resignation, however, and Reja will be on the touchline for another derby. He'll still be coping with a long injury list, although at least he'll be able to field four genuine defenders this time (we hope). Klose may be relatively new to the Derby della Capitale, but Lazio will be looking to the German once again, their top scorer and winner of the reverse fixture.