Roma’s road to redemption passes through the derby against Lazio

When it comes to matches, none are as keenly anticipated as the infamous derby and especially when Roma are the team hosting the event. Their fans’ devotion to the squad is unrivalled. A sea of yellow and red engulfs the stadium and pictures of current legend and hero Francesco Totti are strewn across the stands. The Roma anthem is bellowed from each corner whilst the Laziale contingent are subjected to relentless taunting from their cross city rivals.
However this Sunday as opposed to last season, the Lazio fans will arrive with a wry smile, aware of the knowledge that they are more likely to achieve the elusive Champions League spot this season and much of it is down to the notion of a team unit. Lack of European football has been a blessing in disguise as it allowed Edy Reja to concentrate on domestic success by creating an organised, hard-working and efficient team. Despite suffering from a somewhat impotent attack and, at times, a real lack of creativity within the team, their efficient play, as witnessed against Palermo, demonstrate that those few chances at goal they do create will rarely be wasted. Boasting the league’s second tightest defence, the Biancocelesti have only conceded 23 goals this season and that is largely due to the cohesive manner of football played as the players play for one another, tracking back incessantly, in order to cope with the recent injuries at the back. Only Mauro Zarate threatens to disturb the harmony of this team as his agent complains of his client being played out of position.
However, Zarate’s deployment out wide coupled with defensive contributions is what helped the team win against the Rosanero. It is also likely he will be deployed in a similar manner against Roma to exploit the weaknesses of a side that has conceded most of their goals from winged play attacks. A defence that has shipped 39 goals this season, the fourth worst in Serie A, their manner of winning was to outscore the opponent which now no longer seems possible with Marco Borriello suffering from a goal drought.
Many have blamed the ex-Milan striker on the team’s current woes. A man accused of not understanding the team’s hierarchy, Claudio Ranieri’s decision to build the team around the player he accused of ‘wanting to play all the time’ has had a seemingly detrimental effect on the team’s dynamics according to the fans. With players such as Mirko Vucinic asked to play out wide and create for the striker in addition to Captain Francesco Totti taking his place on the bench has created unrest within the squad. Borriello has done a sterling job of scoring repeatedly for the team at the beginning but his unwillingness to sacrifice coupled with the fact that the player is limited in his abilities have led to the current offensive problems.
With rumoured factions within the dressing room and a Captain who has yet to speak out regarding the matter, it has become apparent that leadership is lacking across the board and the team is crucially in need of an authority figure to remedy the problems within. Poor on pitch behaviour such as was witnessed by Daniele De Rossi against Shakhtar Donetsk in addition to low team morale and the squad’s tendency to lose concentration in the final 30 minutes have forced the team to struggle domestically and internationally.
However, if there was ever a match to truly unite a squad than what better than one against their most hated rivals?

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