Lazio vs AS Roma, Preview and TV schedule: Battle lines drawn in bid for derby bragging rights

Paolo Bruno

Ahead of the much anticipated Rome derby, Lazio have rediscovered some form, but rivals AS Roma are enjoying a vintage season and still harbour Scudetto hopes. Something has to give.

The second Derby della Capitale of the season is upon us. Rudi Garcia's Roma haven't yet given up on catching runaway league leaders Juventus. Coming into the game, the Giallorossi trail the Bianconeri by nine points -albeit with a game in hand after last weekend's meeting against Parma was rained off. Lazio would take great delight in derailing their rivals' tilt towards the title. However, that task is easier said than done, due to Roma losing just the one game all season.

Since Edy Reja returned to the Lazio bench, the Biancocelesti have arrested a domestic slump that saw them almost flirting with the relegation places over Christmas. After Vladimir Petkovic's dismissal over the festive period, the Eagles have enjoyed a five game unbeaten streak in Serie A. Reja managed to halt Juve's run of 12 straight league victories and after failing to win away from home all season, within the last month alone, Reja has oversaw two consecutive road victories over Udinese and Chievo Verona respectively. Reja's only blemish has been a Coppa Italia exit to Napoli in the quarter finals. Roma remain in the competition and go into Wednesday's second leg of their semi final with a 3-2 advantage over the Neapolitans.

Back in September, Roma eased to a 2-0 victory to avenge last May's slender Coppa Italia defeat against their neighbours. To rub salt in the wounds, Lazio failed to register a single shot on target and had defender Andre Dias dismissed. Reja lost his first four Rome derbies as Lazio coach, but did win his final two before walking away from the job in 2012.

Antonio Candreva is Lazio's current hot property. The in-form winger has scored in each of his team's last three Serie A games and is the side's top scorer with seven goals. The emergence of Keita Balde has also coincided with Lazio's recent upturn in form. The young Spaniard scored one and assisted the other in last weekend's 2-0 victory at Chievo to soften the blow of Hernanes' departure to Inter Milan.

Club captain Stefano Mauri is available for selection after seeing his ban for failing to report alleged match fixing in 2011 reduced. The midfielder last played in May's Coppa Italia victory, but isn't expected to start the match. Etrit Berisha will continue in goal, as Federico Marchetti is still battling for fitness. Miroslav Klose has shook off a bout of flu and was excused from training on Friday to go fishing. The veteran German is widely expected to take his place in attack. Abdoulay Konko and new signing Helder Postiga are struggling with calf injuries, while Michael Ciani is carrying a thigh problem. Ederson has been ruled out for the season after being stretchered off against Udinese and Lucas Biglia is suspended after picking up a fourth booking at Chievo.

Roma are expected to field three of their hometown players - Daniele De Rossi, Alessandro Florenzi and Francesco Totti, with Miralem Pjanic also coming back into the midfield after starting the midweek Coppa victory on the bench. The continued absences of Dodo and Federico Balzaretti on the left hand side mean Vassilis Torosidis will continue to deputise. There is no hint of Garcia resting key players ahead of the Coppa Italia return.

In Gervinho, the Giallorossi have one of Serie A's current in-form players. Many sides have struggled to cope with the electric pace possessed by the revitalised Ivorian, who bagged a brace against Napoli and currently has five Serie A strikes to his name. The ex-Arsenal man has enjoyed being reunited with Garcia and has put a forgettable stint in England firmly behind him.

Roma haven't found goals hard to come by so far. The fact that Totti, Florenzi, Kevin Strootman, Adem Ljajic and defender Mehdi Benatia have all chipped in with five goals apiece shows their danger from all areas of the pitch.

Garcia will continue with the 4-3-3 formation that has served Roma well up to this point. Lazio could be tempted to move away from a 3-4-2-1/3-4-3 to try something similar to their rivals to combat the losses in their side.

Lazio injuries and suspensions:

Abdoulay Konko, Michael Ciani, Ederson, Helder Postiga (injured) Lucas Biglia (suspended)

AS Roma injuries and suspensions:

Dodo, Federico Balzaretti (injured)

Projected line ups:

Lazio (4-3-3): Berisha, Cavanda, Biava, Dias, Radu, Onazi, Ledesma, Lulic, Candreva, Klose, Keita Balde

AS Roma (4-3-3): De Sanctis, Maicon, Benatia, Castran, Torosidis, Pjanic, De Rossi, Strootman, Florenzi, Totti, Gervinho

Match Date/Time: Sunday 9th February, 3 p.m. local, 9 a.m. ET

Venue: Stadio Olimpico, Rome

TV: Sky Calcio 2, Sky 3D Italia, Premium Calcio 1, Sky Sport 1 HD Italia (Italy) RAI Internazionale, beIN Sports USA, beIN Sports Play (U.S) BT Sport 2 (UK)

Online: Bet365, bwin, Unibet

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