Lazio relaunch Champions League race with dominant win in Rome derby

Rome is – for the moment – blue.

Friday night witnessed the centerpiece of the Derby della Capitale in Italy, where SS Lazio welcomed bitter rivals AS Roma to their common home for what was to be a difficult and nervous occasion.

Instead, Aquile, then eighth in the table, six points behind their visitors, beat I Giallorossi by three goals to zero in one of the most one-sided Rome derbies in history, while simultaneously reigniting the battle. hotly contested for the first four places in Serie A.

As for the derbies, it was as easy as you can imagine from start to finish for the Eagles.

Coach Simone Inzaghi demonstrated exactly why he was seen as a possible future manager for Juventus or even Italy, setting up his squad in a way that completely baffled both thought and outmatched Roma players.

SS Lazio v AS Roma - Serie A
Inzaghi inspired Lazio to an impressive victory | Giampiero Sposito / Getty Images

The match was won on the right flank of Lazio and lost on the left of Roma. Giallorossi’s coach Paulo Fonseca made the decision to release Leonardo Spinazzola from all his defensive duties, hoping his offensive threat would push back Aquile and negate his own dangers.

But Inzaghi called Fonseca’s bluff, deploying the quick Manuel Lazzari up the pitch to their right flank, and giving Spinazzola all the space he could want behind his marker.

Unfortunately for Roma, Lazzari was much more powerful than his national compatriot on this wing, and he took advantage of the space he was given, leading left center-back Roger Ibanez to produce a performance that will go down in history in this tall. old derby.

The Brazilian defender was caught dreaming in possession of his own penalty area by Lazzari, who blamed his hasty clearance, allowing Ciro Immobile to strike home with all the time in the world.

If that 14th minute punch knocked out Roma’s farce, then they were sent to the canvas unconscious in the 23rd minute. Another Giallorossi corner was converted into a Lazio counterattack, and Lazzari was encouraged to knock down the right flank without any opposition, pass a molasses-trapped Ibanez and pull the ball out for Luis Alberto to take him down. fits neatly in the lower corner.

It was surgical and clinical on the part of the hosts, who never seemed confused. In fact, they limited a Roma team continuing the match for 75 minutes, with one shot on target and two wide from goal.

Inzaghi’s three-man backline matched Lorenzo Pellegrini, Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Edin Dzeko’s man-to-man trident, forcing the trio to dive deeper and deeper in search of possession and glimpses of joy – which never arrived.

Lazio put the game to bed at 67 minutes, when Alberto completed a 22 pass move that involved input from all 11 players, underlining the vast class gap between the two sides on the night.

He was disciplined and ruthless from Inzaghi’s men, who fully deserved the glory and three points on a special night in Rome. But there was more than bragging rights at Stadio Olimpico.

Roma’s victory would have seen fans dream of an unexpected scudetto challenge, while a loss to Lazio might have dashed their plans to return to Champions League football next season. In this case, I Giallorossi was left a nervous look over their shoulders, while the Aquile returned to the top four.

This is football for you.

Antonio Conte, Andrea Pirlo
Old friends reunited | Marco Luzzani / Getty Images

As Roma and Lazio’s seasons turned on Friday, supporters of Juventus and Inter await their much-anticipated reunion on Sunday night. This match is known as the Derby d’Italia – the Italian derby – so as far as the competitions go, this one is up there.

Inter can boast of a mathematical lead, but Juve will always appreciate the psychological advantage. I Bianconeri was left out of the title race ahead of their mammoth clash with Milan, but a six-point comeback from I Rossoneri and Sassuolo put them back into the mix.

There’s a giant black-and-white shadow hovering over the shoulders of Italy’s current rulers, and she has that all-too-familiar sense of inevitability. This shadow engulfs everything before it does, and if the story is something that passes, it won’t stop until it has consumed everything in its path.

This journey started at San Siro against Milan, and it could either continue its march or end abruptly in the same stadium against Antonio Conte’s side. Inter themselves are at the heart of the scudetto battle and were absolutely flying until two slips in as many games brought them back to earth.

Inter had won eight Serie A appearances on the rebound before stumbling to a 2-1 loss to Sampdoria and then losing a late lead to draw Roma 2-2 in the Italian capital. Those disappointments have left them three points behind Milan at the top of Serie A, and they can’t afford much more setback if they hope to topple I Rossoneri.

But these are just a handful of a group of top Serie A teams scrambling for the title and European glory. Atalanta and SSC Napoli are sandwiched between Juventus and Lazio in the table, while Sassuolo’s first black horses are still in eighth place.

The big boys | MIGUEL MEDINA / Getty Images

The top half of Serie A has rarely been this competitive, and even halfway through the fast-approaching season, we’re still no closer to understanding where a team is likely to end in May.

Whatever happens, there will be sheer chaos over the next five months, and we can’t wait for it all to unfold.