A derby with two teams with a very different track record. Roma are currently sixth in the domestic league and have gone through in Europe after beating Basel, whereas Lazio are suffering in the league just hovering above the relegation zone and have failed to get through to the latter stages of the Europa League.
The game had fireworks from the beginning- quite literally when the game was halted at the 13th minute for about six minutes. It was evident by the player’s reaction to this long pause that this derby was important, even more than Juventus – Inter. To the players this derby was everything. This was more than about having bragging rights, the Lazio coach Davide Ballardini risked losing his job if results didn’t start to pick up pretty soon.
Lazio seemed the more attacking team but Mauro Zarate seemed isolated up front and it was evident that he needed more support. Lazio did have the most possession but would lose it in the final third because there was often no one there to help with the attack. Towards the end of the game the play had many stops and nasty tackles. On the half hour mark the Biancocelesti went close to scoring the opening when Stefano Mauri just failed to get a touch on Zarate’s cross.
Just before half time the Giallorossi lost Phillipe Mexes as he was replaced by Marco Cassetti who then pushed Burdisso to a center-back role. The second half saw the arrival of Pasquale Foggia and Matteo Brighi. It also saw a more aggressive Lazio as they continued to search for that opener. On the hour mark Zarate made a surging run into the box, thumping the ball towards goal. Luckily for Roma, Julio Sergio made a wonderful double save, first denying Zarate and then getting a hand out to stop the follow up by Mauri, which was surely goal bound.
The Giallorossi immediately responded at the other end when Perrotta’s header was fingertipped over the crossbar. The game had finally sparked to life and Roma then got their winning goal with a well worked team move between Cassetti and Vucinic. Cassetti then struck it home and the Olympico went wild. Lazio tried to get something out of this game by throwing on the likes of Tommaso Rocchi, but it was just not going to happen, and at full time the score read 1-0 to Roma.
Claudio Rainieri: “Aside from the goal, which is very important, Cassetti had a great game, did everything he needed to and I saw the Cassetti of old.”
Davide Ballardini: “We need to get out of difficult situation, but this is the sprit, style and aggression Lazio needed.”
This fixture is always one consisting of passion and high tension, because whomever wins this has won bragging rights over their city rivals. The supporters did their part to bring their intense passion to the game. It was however too intense when after 13 minutes play was stopped because of firecrackers being thrown onto the pitch. Play resumed after six minutes but the little pause took the sting out of the game and it took a while before the pace of the game picked up. Lazio were the team that seemed to have the desire and energy to win this game and it felt as if they were the only ones treating this like a proper derby. Soon after the restart it was suddenly Roma who showed more aggression when in the 26th minute Jeremy Menez forced Fernando Muslera to dive to save a powerful right footed strike just outside the box.
Then Lazio started to become a threat but it was evident they were lacking the skill and fire-power in the final third to make a real impact. Lazio were extremely unlucky not to break the deadlock at the half hour mark when Zarate forced the Roma keeper to perform a spectacular double save. The ever confident Giallorossi replied with a moment of great teamwork and alertness when Vucinic’s cross found Cassetti and his right footed volley headed towards the near post and beat Muslera. Lazio must have felt hard done by, after they showed so much energy and determination. It just was not their night as a 10 man Roma beat their city rivals Lazio.
Roma 1-0 Lazio – Cassetti 79
Roma (4-2-3-1): Sergio- Juan, Mexes ( Cassetti 45), Riise. Burdisso- De Rossi, Pizarro- Perrotta, Menez ( Brighi 45), Vucinic ( Taddei 90) – Totti
Lazio ( 3-4-1-2): Muslera- Stendardo, Radu, Diakite- Mauri ( Rocchi 82), Brocchi, Baronio ( Dabo 89), Kolarov- Lichtseiner- Zarate, Matuzalem ( Foggia 46)
6 – Corners – 7
13 (6) – Shots ( on target) – 15 (3)
24 – Fouls – 22
3 (1) – Yellow cards ( Red) – 3 ()
0 – Offside – 2