Three points and a single league placing currently separate these fierce city rivals in Serie A, as the race for European places hots up. Lazio have won the last three derbies, but a lot has changed since the Biancocelesti's 3-2 win in the first half of the season. The Eagles have fallen away from the Champions League places, while AS Roma have replaced Zdenek Zeman with Aurelio Andreazzoli and have steadily climbed back into contention for Europe.
Shaun Best: Well, Lazio have gone from 2nd to slush and Roma have gone from a disorganised mess to somewhat organised. Competing on three fronts with a thin squad has taken its toll.
Jack Sargeant: Thin squad or not very good squad? Other than Hernanes and Klose (maybe Marchetti), they're not really great.
Iain Cannell: Candreva has been good this season.
Shaun Best: Yes Marchetti and Candreva have both broken through the barrier and are regular internationals.
Jack Sargeant: Hernanes has faded over the season. I'd take the Roma squad over the Lazio one.
Kirsten Schlewitz: Yet the Roma squad still has their weaknesses. What happened last week? I mean...Palermo? Really?
Jack Sargeant: Well, they lost 2-0.
Iain Cannell: Palermo seem to have hit a little bit of form though.
Jack Sargeant: Roma were rubbish defensively and were sucker-punched on a couple of counter-attacks.
Kirsten Schlewitz: Being rubbish defensively is something we've seen from Roma for much of the season, but it seemed they were putting that behind them.
Jack Sargeant: It was a game which could have gone either way, and Stefano Sorrentino had the game of his life, so we probably should read into it too much
Kirsten Schlewitz: Was there a weak link?
Jack Sargeant: Probably. They created chances, though their failure to take them cost them dear. Given how many goals they've scored this season, we can probably put that down to an off-day.
Iain Cannell: Even when they lost to Palermo last week, they didn't struggle to create chances.
Shaun Best: I think Andreazzoli has taught them how to keep it in their pants a bit longer, for lack of a better term. Nothing against Zeman, but Roma are more steak and less sizzle nowadays which can be a good thing.
Jack Sargeant: Bloody hell Shaun.
Iain Cannell: Well it's clearly a good thing, given their results since Zeman was sacked.
Kirsten Schlewitz: Andreazzoli has changed to a three man backline, which may not have worked so well last week, but has served the side pretty well since he took over. Do you think he'll go overly defensive for the derby? Better a draw than a loss, say? Winning is usually the most important thing in a derby but it seems sometimes new managers are overly cautious in big matches.
Jack Sargeant: I think that Roma's system under Andreazzoli lends itself to a counter-attacking style, e.g. they've looked really fluid in attack with Totti drifting and runs from Alessandro Florenzi in behind, so I think he'll just stick with his usual approach -- it's not the most offensive already.
Iain Cannell: We all love to be entertained by an outlandish Zeman side but at the end of the day, the fans want results and Andreazzoli has got far more of them than Zeman did
Kirsten Schlewitz: Do you honestly think a Zeman Roma team could win on Monday?
Jack Sargeant: Yes. It could also lose 6-0.
Shaun Best: No because it wouldn't contain Stekelenburg or De Rossi, given how Zeman always left them out. I don't think Lazio have six goals in them for one match at the moment. They have been pretty goal-shy lately.
Jack Sargeant: Lazio's lack of pace in attack means they'd struggle against a Zeman Roma team.
Iain Cannell: Well Zeman's side lost 3-2 in the reverse match.
Shaun Best: There was a torrential storm aswell during the game.
Kirsten Schlewitz: I'm not sure the reverse can really tell us much about Monday's match. There's been such a turnaround from both sides. Last week's matches were both a deviation from the turn.
Iain Cannell: The Fenerbahce match in itself was another u-turn for Lazio, as whilst they'd been awful in the league, they'd been impressive in Europe. The trend was reversed this week.
Jack Sargeant: I think that if Petkovic sets up similarly to against Fenerbahce, they'll struggle. Roma are good passers of the ball, and retain it well. If he adopts his tactics (i.e. drops the three man defence) the can harm Roma. A 4-3-3 getting the most out of Candreva, for example would be good.
Iain Cannell: I think a three-man defence may be necessitated by the fact that Konko and Pereirinha are both injured so there's nobody really to play right-back.
Shaun Best: Does Petkovic hold back for the Fenerbahce return or go all out? I say he plays the big guns i.e Klose from the start.
Kirsten Schlewitz: He plays Klose in the derby and forgets about Europa?
Jack Sargeant: The derby HAS to take priority over a Europa tie which is already decided, no?
Kirsten Schlewitz: Well, I agree, Lazio have to forget about Fenerbahce and put everything into this match. Europa League isn't going to happen.
Shaun Best: I totally agree. You go all out to win a derby.
Kirsten Schlewitz: So Klose's definitely healthy?
Shaun Best: I would say so, but you have to roll the dice and take the risk. Montella did so with Jovetic today, okay that didn't pay off, but it's something he had to do as Fiorentina are chasing the Champions League, just as Lazio are.
Iain Cannell: Especially as it's the derby you play your best available XI no matter what in a match this heated, surely?
Kirsten Schlewitz: Just how important IS Klose? has his significance been overblown?
(I don't think so but maybe someone out there has an argument on the other side)
Iain Cannell: I don't, Floccari and Kozak are nowhere near the standard of Klose.
Shaun Best: Floccari was getting to the required standard until his injury. Unless there's a Europa League badge on the shirt, then Kozak isn't up to standard, but he's a favourite of Lotito's.
Jack Sargeant: If Klose doesn't play and Lazio lose, there'll be calls for Petkovic to be fired, I'd wager.
Shaun Best: That's a bit drastic Jack. That wouldn't happen yet.
Kirsten Schlewitz: He should go at the end of the season. He's got nothing beyond "throw Klose on and pray" and "Oh look I made Hernanes decent for awhile."
Shaun Best: His hands are tied. I think if he could, he'd pick Zarate, Diakite, Cavanda in an instant. It's Lotito's law he has to abide by.
Iain Cannell: Indeed, it was the same situation with Ballardini and Ledesma and Pandev. They would've been straight in the team but for Lotito.
Jack Sargeant: Well, if Lotito is deliberately taking decisions which worsen his team, it's completely stupid.
Iain Cannell: It's just another megalomaniac team owner in a way, look at Zamparini, or Abramovich.
Shaun Best: Getting back on track, how much longer do you think Totti will play on for? He is like the Ryan Giggs of Roma.
Jack Sargeant: Forever. Seriously, when I watched Roma beat Parma 2-0 a few weeks ago, he ran the show. Still utterly amazing,and still totally the embodiment of the Giallorossi, on and off the field. His passing and movement is still among the best in Serie A. Unless he goes drastically off the rails, there's no reason he'd stop soon.
Kirsten Schlewitz: He manages to improve even on that for derbies.
Iain Cannell: Yeah, he's the one player you can guarantee will raise his game for this match.
Shaun Best: I think he's definitely matured as a player and lost some of those Cassano tendencies he had. He knows the future is Florenzi, Romagnoli etc and is nurturing them along.
Kirsten Schlewitz: Roma are the favorites here, right?
Iain Cannell: On form, yes.
Kirsten Schlewitz: So the question is, how can Lazio get the win?
Shaun Best: By playing their best team.
Kirsten Schlewitz: Best team or best permitted team?
Shaun Best: Best permitted team. If selected, players like Onazi, Ederson and Kozak should see this game as an opportunity to step up and get noticed. My lineup would be: Marchetti, Gonzalez, Biava, Cana, Radu, Lulic, Hernanes, Ledesma, Mauri, Candreva, Klose (4-5-1)
Iain Cannell: I was thinking of how I'd change that but I think that's probably the best way. Three-man defence just won't fit.
Jack Sargeant: I think the only way they can play is look to Candreva and play quickly on the counter-attack.
Iain Cannell: And hope to take advantage of Roma's weaknesses when counter-attacked.
Jack Sargeant: Roma are going to be weakest in the wide areas, and the best way they can take advantage of that is by playing a shape with allows wide players to stay high up the pitch.
Iain Cannell: And also hope Ledesma doesn't get sent off.
Shaun Best: Iain you make a good point. Who WILL get sent off? This is a game where someone always gets sent off.
Iain Cannell: It's usually either De Rossi or Ledesma although didn't Mauri get sent off last time?
Shaun Best: De Rossi and Mauri did.
Kirsten Schlewitz: DDR straight red, Mauri second yellow.
Iain Cannell: I remember Radu getting sent off last season or the season before for an elbow on DDR.
Kirsten Schlewitz: Four yellows for each side and a sending off apiece in the reverse fixture.
Jack Sargeant: Ledesma is just terrible defensively,he's the only defensive midfielder in the world who doesn't defend. I think it was against Fiorentina when he kept making cavalier runs up the pitch, leaving acres of space in behind.
Kirsten Schlewitz: Jack, what do you say for Roma?
Jack Sargeant: I'll say Goicoechea...(only joking)
Kirsten Schlewitz: (did Piris get good when I wasn't looking?)
Jack Sargeant: I like Piris, but he's suspended. Stekelenburg; Marquinhos, Burdisso, Castan; Torosidis, De Rossi, Pjanic, Balzaretti (would say Marquinho but need good defensive option vs Candreva); Lamela, Florenzi; Totti
Shaun Best: Let's wrap things up. Score predictions?
Kirsten Schlewitz: 3-1 Roma,
Iain Cannell: With a heavy heart, I'm going to say 2-0 Roma. I just can't see Lazio winning.
Shaun Best: I'm going for a 2-2 draw. A 2-0 lead will get pegged back.
Kirsten Schlewitz: I'm adding "with a red card apiece" to my prediction.
Iain Cannell: I think that's a given.
Jack Sargeant: 2-1 Roma.