AS Roma vs Lazio preview: Roman gladiators all set to clash in the Eternal City

Giuseppe Bellini

Plenty of fireworks are promised both on and off the pitch, as faces new and old come together for the season’s first Derby della Capitale.

Rudi Garcia takes charge of his first Rome derby, with his Roma side currently topping the Serie A table. However, in recent times, it's Lazio who have had the ascendency in this fixture as all three of Garcia's predecessors have failed to win this capital clash over the last couple of seasons.

A Senad Lulic goal back in May handed the Biancocelesti the Coppa Italia at the expense of their city rivals. In addition, Vladimir Petkovic's side took four points from last season's two Serie A meetings and did the league double over the Giallorossi the season prior. Garcia, backed by a plethora of new signings and slew of good performances now has a chance to do what Luis Enrique, Zdenek Zeman and Aurelio Andreazzoli all failed to do.

The Coppa loss was the final straw for Roma fans, who voiced their displeasure at the team's hierarchy throughout the summer. A rollercoaster of a season was endured under the reigns of Zeman then Andreazzoli, with both tacticians failing to stabilise a team and stop the infighting amongst players. Garcia's arrival and work so far seems to indicate that progress is being made. The former Lille tactician has restored Daniele De Rossi to the heart of the midfield and handed Alessandro Florenzi regular starts up front. Both Roman natives have repaid the coach's faith with solid performances and goals. Despite the sales of attackers Pablo Osvaldo and Erik Lamela, Roma haven't looked back as they have won three out of three domestically, including a fine performance on Monday, which saw them come from behind to beat Parma 3-1.

Francesco Totti remains an integral part of the side. The club captain, who has begun his 22nd campaign in a Roma shirt, signed a new contract this week to tie him to the Giallorossi until 2016. The 36-year-old proved against Parma that he still has the midas touch in front of goal. Michael Bradley and Mattia Destro remain on the sidelines and will miss this game. They're joined by Federico Balzaretti, who suffered an injury in training. Adem Ljajic will require a late fitness test on a thigh injury. Gervinho is on standby to replace the former Fiorentina man.

Lazio come into the derby in good form. The Biancocelesti banished memories of the 4-1 thrashing at Juventus, by sweeping Chievo Verona aside 3-0 last weekend, courtesy of a clinical first half display. They followed that up with a 1-0 victory over Legia Warsaw in the Europa League on Thursday night.

The Eagles are once again going for glory on three fronts this season and Petkovic will have a delicate balancing act on his hands. Squad depth is an issue and remains a sore point amongst a section of the club's fans. A disappointing transfer market saw plenty of attacking targets fail to materialise, with both Antonio Rozzi (loan) and Libor Kozak also departing the Stadio Olimpico.

Petkovic rested Antonio Candreva and Miroslav Klose for the midweek victory. Both will start on Sunday. Giuseppe Biava hobbled out of the Chievo victory and will join Stefan Radu and Felipe Anderson in the stands. Lucas Biglia will have to wait for his first taste of the Rome derby, as the summer signing from Anderlecht is out for 7-10 days with a thigh problem. Hernanes returns from suspension and will take over the midfield reins from Ederson.

Speaking of Ederson, both he and Michael Bradley have shown a united front ahead of the game, by releasing a statement in the hopes of stamping out any racist behaviour.

"Rome is the most beautiful city in the world," the joint-statement read. "And us players want to look good in front of the whole world.

"On Sunday, everyone will look at us and we want to show that Rome is not a racist city.

"We hope that all Romans will enjoy the show."

AS Roma injuries and suspensions

Out: Bogdan Lobont, Federico Balzaretti, Michael Bradley, Mattia Destro (injured) Adem Ljajic (in doubt)

Lazio injuries and suspensions

Out: Stefan Radu, Giuseppe Biava, Lucas Biglia, Felipe Anderson (injured) Stefano Mauri (suspended)

Projected lineups

AS Roma: De Sanctis; Maicon, Benatia, Castan, Dodo; Pjanic, De Rossi, Strootman; Florenzi, Totti, Gervinho

Lazio: Marchetti; Cavanda, Cana, Ciani, Konko; Gonzalez, Hernanes, Onazi, Lulic; Candreva; Klose

Match date/time: Sunday 22nd September 2013, 3:00p.m local, 9:00a.m ET

Venue: Stadio Olimpico, Rome

TV: Premium Play, Sky Sport 1 HD Italia, Premium Calcio HD, Sky Calcio 2, Premium Calcio 1 (Italy) RAI Internazionale, beIN Sport USA, beIN Sport Play (U.S) ESPN (UK)

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