Stadio Olimpico, Rome
Monday 25th May, 2015, 16:00 GMT
Lazio and Roma square off for the second time in Serie A this season at the Stadio Olimpico on Monday afternoon, with plenty at stake for both teams. The Biancoceleste head into their penultimate game of the campaign needing a point to assure themselves of at least a third-placed finish and a spot in the 2015/16 qualifying campaign for the Champions League. Should Lazio win, they would leapfrog Roma into second place and be two points clear of their city rivals heading into the final round.
A loss, however, would set up a tense last weekend for Lazio because they would then need to avoid falling to defeat at fourth-placed Napoli to maintain third spot. Napoli, who crashed to a 3-1 defeat at Juventus on Saturday to remain three points behind Lazio, would win a head-to-head tie-breaker with Lazio if the sides were to end the season level on points. The defeat by Napoli at Juve, meanwhile, assured Roma of at least a third-placed finish. If the clubs draw on Monday, Roma would remain in second place but need to win their last game at home to Palermo to be assured of a runners-up finish.
Team news and tactics
Unlike many of European football’s other major nations, just three Italian clubs will qualify for next season’s Champions League. For Lazio, their fate is in their own hands. A win over bitter rivals Roma on Monday will all but secure their spot in Europe’s top club competition, with Rafael Benitez’s Napoli, who are currently three points worse off, to come on the final day of the season next weekend. The side that finishes second in Serie A behind champions Juventus will automatically be included in the group stages, while the team in third will have to settle for a place in the third qualifying round, which could potentially throw up a tricky tie.
It will be the job of head coach Stefano Pioli to lift his players following the Coppa Italia final extra-time defeat at the hands of Juve, who won thanks to a strike from Alessandro Matri. His players must be able to take some confidence from their recent Serie A form, though, having lost just two of their previous 16 outings. The big news for Lazio is that Dutch defender Stefan De Vrij is available, having come through the Coppa Italia final unscathed. The summer signing had not been expected to return again this season from the muscular injury that had kept him sidelined for a number of weeks. However, there is not such good news where Lucas Biglia, Lorik Cana, Ederson and Pereirinha are concerned, with the quartet being ruled out, while defender Stefan Radu is a doubt.
Probable Starting Line-up (4-2-3-1):Marchetti(Gk); Basta, De Vrij, Gentiletti, Lulic; Ledesma, Parolo; Mauri, Candreva, Anderson; Klose
Once a genuine contender to Juve in the Serie A title race,Rudi Garcia’s Roma fell away after the turn of the year. Their form has been patchy to say the least in 2015, perhaps suffering a hangover from the disappointment of losing out on a place in the knockout stages of the Champions League at the hands of Manchester City. Having said that, results have picked up of late, with the Romans losing just one of their previous eight Serie A outings.
A win for Roma would secure their spot in the Champions League, while a draw would also go a long way to ending any lingering fears that they might miss out. Of course, with Napoli, who are four points adrift, travelling to the champions this weekend, they may not need to win this game at all. Nevertheless, they will certainly fancy their chances of coming through either way, particularly with 10th-placed Palermo to come at the Stadio Olimpico on the final day of the season. Kevin Strootman, Maicon, Gervinho and Leandro Castan are long-term absentees, but veterans Francesco Totti and Daniele De Rossi are both expected to feature in the starting lineup. Meanwhile, Seydou Doumbia, who recently scored his first two goals for the club since his winter arrival from CSKA Moscow, is likely to have to settle for a place on the bench.
Probable Starting Line-up (4-3-3):De Sanctis(Gk); Florenzi, Yanga-Mbiwa, Manolas, Torisidis; Pjanic, De Rossi, Nainggolan; Ljajic, Totti, Ibarbo
- Roma have drawn 3 of their previous 4 meetings against Lazio.
- In their previous 20 meetings in all competitions, Lazio have lost 9 times to Roma.
- In their previous 9 away matches, Roma have won only 3 matches.
- In their previous 5 meetings in all competitions against Roma, Lazio have scored only 4 goals.
- Roma have kept 3 clean sheets in their previous 6 away matches in Serie A.
- Overall the head to head record belongs to Roma with a lead of 64-48.
- No player has scored more goals in this fixture than Roma legend Totti, who has a chance to add to his haul of 11 on Monday.
Players to Watch Out For
Stefan De Vrij (Lazio)
The Aquile have suffered a dip in form since the defeat to Juventus, picking up only two wins in six matches, although this has coincided with a string of injuries to key players like Stefan De Vrij. However, the return of the dutch international for this game will be a huge boost for the Aquile after he managed 106 minutes in that same final.
Francesco Totti (Roma)
The Giallorossi captain needs no prompting to turn up with a decisive performance in his favourite fixture. Francesco Totti is the all-time top scorer in the Derby della Capitale with 11 goals, and hea ll be keen to extend his record next week and guide his beloved club along the final stretch to the prize of automatic Champions League qualification.
Lazio 3a 2 AS Roma
Lazio crucially won at Sampdoria last time out, but defeat in the Coppa Italia final will probably affect the Biancocelesti’s morale ahead of the derby. Saying the duo enjoyed a similar season because they are separated by only 1 would be far from telling the truth as Roma and Lazio have had contrasting moments of brilliance. Roma were consistent in the first half of the season, only to throw away a huge advantage from January onwards. Lazio enjoyed some good runs of form, alternating with winnable games in which they failed to collect maximum points. Lazio have been slightly better over the season and they are in better form than Roma, who are slowly improving, but are a shadow of the team from the opening weeks of the season. That said, the magic of the derby adds an unpredictable element to the tie that could push the score either way.
Blast From the Past
When they met earlier in the campaign, Lazio opened up a two-goal lead, but a brace from Totti rescued a 2-2 draw for Roma.