Roma host Lazio at the Stadio Olimpico on Sunday evening in Serie A. The Roma derby sees former Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho and Maurizio Sarri face off as both hope for a late charge into the Champions League spots. The teams sit eight and nine points off Juve in fourth and can’t afford to drop points in this match. Mourinho’s side have lost just once in 12 matches. Lazio ended a four-match winless run with successive Serie A victories.
Since dramatically throwing away a 3-1 lead to losing 4-3 to Juventus in January, Roma have started to absorb Mourinho’s ideas. They have lost just once in 12 matches across three different competitions and are seven without a defeat. Drawing too many matches has been a problem for Mourinho’s side. Even though they are eight without losing in Serie A, they have drawn four of their last six.
They twice needed to come from behind to draw 2-2 as Sassuolo and 2-2 at home with Verona. A 1-0 win at Spezia and 1-0 home win against Atalanta followed, as well as winning 1-0 away at Vitesse. Roma’s last match saw a 1-1 home draw with Vitesse to progress 2-1 on aggregate in the Europa Conference League.
Roma Team News
Mourinho has Sergio Oliveira available for this match after he served a suspension against Vitesse. Bryan Cristante is also an option in central midfield where there is a good selection dilemma. Attacking midfielder Henrikh Mkhitaryan and center-back Marash Kumbulla missed the draw at Udinese but are both backs. Lorenzo Pellegrini is a doubt due to a fever but should be involved.
Rick Karsdorp is set for a recall at right wingback with Ainsley Maitland-Niles dropping down to the bench. Gianluca Mancini is also set to return in the back three after playing no minutes against Vitesse due to suspension. Leonardo Spinazzola remains out injured with a long-term problem.
The Giallorossi need a win from this match to keep their top-four hopes alive. Mourinho will likely play a relatively defensive game, knowing how Sarri sets up his sides to keep plenty of possession deeper areas.
A draw would keep the side’s unbeaten run going but would make a top-four finish very difficult unless Juventus also drop points this weekend.
Lazio have been in the mixed form under Sarri. Their last eight matches have seen a 4-0 thrashing at AC Milan in the Coppa Italia and a 4-3 aggregate Europa League exit against Porto. The first six of that eight-match streak saw just one win as pressure began to ramp up on the Biancocelesti coach.
After losing 2-1 at Porto, Lazio drew 2-2 at home in the second leg. A 1-1 draw at Udinese was sandwiched by those results. A last gasp goal then condemned Lazio to a 2-1 home loss to Napoli, putting the club’s top-four hopes in tatters. They have bounced back in recent weeks, winning 3-0 at Cagliari and 1-0 against Venezia to move up to the fifth spot.
Lazio Team News
Adam Marusic returns from suspension after his red card against Cagliari and will start at fullback. Manuel Lazzari will be hoping to get a start having come off the bench after a knock against Venezia. Danilo Cataldi remains sidelined through injury.
Pedro will be hoping for a recall in the front three alongside Ciro Immobile and Felipe Anderson. Pepe Reina will likely remain on the bench with Thomas Strakosha playing in goal.
Like Roma, Lazio needs a win. They have had all week to prepare and motivation will be at its maximum with no distractions or fatigue like Roma faces.
Sarri-ball will be in full view as the coach looks to dominate possession. Expect Lazio to feel like the home side at times with a lot of the ball. Anything less than a win would give Juventus the chance to stretch the gap to the top four.
Roma have lost 1 of their last 12 matches in all comps (W6, D5)
Roma are 8 Serie A matches unbeaten (4 draws in the last 6)
Roma’s Abraham has scored 9 goals in his last 12 Serie A matches
Lazio have won 3 of their last 4 away Serie A matches (all 3-0 wins)
Lazio’s Immobile is the top scorer in Serie A this season (21 goals)
Lazio have lost L3, D1 of their last 4 away matches at Roma
This should be a good match with very contrasting styles of play. Despite Mourinho being pragmatic, his team have played out some thrilling matches since the turn of the year. Both sides should score with a prolific striker to call upon. A score draw looks a good bet and Roma should have enough to avoid losing this match.
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