Derbies are usually tense and tight affairs between rival clubs. Sunday proved no different in Rome as Lazio and Roma played out a tight, tense and scrappy derby della Capitale where Roma emerged victorious.
Lazio are a very settled side under Simone Inzaghi and lined up in a classic 4-3-3 with Federico Marchetti in goal, Dusan Basta, Wallace, Stefan Radu and Senad Lulic in defence, captain Lucas Biglia joined in midfield by Marco Parolo and Sergej Milinkovic-Savic and finally Felipe Anderson and Keita Baldé either side of Ciro Immobile in attack.
Luciano Spalletti changed things up for Roma by lining up in a version of 3-5-2 with Wojciech Szczęsny in goal, Antonio Rüdiger, Kostas Manolas and Federico Fazio in defence, Bruno Peres and Emerson as wing-backs with Daniele De Rossi, Kevin Strootman and Radja Nainggolan in midfield. Diego Perotti and Edin Dzeko were up front.
Lazio started better, helped massively in controlling the game by their lovely midfield balance of Biglia’s passing and Parolo and Milinkovic-Savic’ energy and running. They provided a solid base for the front three to threaten Roma, and there were a few instances when Keita, Anderson and Immobile could get in behind.
Roma grew into the game though, and after a goalless first half began to take the initiative in the second half. The opening goal, though, was not the result of any kind of Roma dominance. Instead, the goal came following a huge mistake by Lazio centre-back Wallace as he tried to dribble his way out of defence as the last man. Strootman stole the ball before coolly chipping Marchetti. 1-0 Roma. Strootman set off to celebrate with the fanatic fans in the curva.
On his way back, the Dutchman squirted water at Lazio substitute, as well as local boy and hot-head, Danilo Cataldi. The young Italian responded by grabbing Strootman’s collar and the Dutchman fell to the ground. A mass brawl followed as tempers flared; the outcome would be a booking for Strootman and a sending off for Cataldi.
Back on the pitch, Lazio weren’t hindered by the sending off as Cataldi indeed never entered the pitch so it was still 11v11. However, as they tried for an equaliser, Roma struck again, this time through Nainggolan. The Belgian picked the ball up and advanced before unleashing a low drive which Marchetti couldn’t keep out. 2-0 and game over.
The win means Roma haven’t lost to Lazio since 2013 and remain second in Serie A, four points behind Juventus. Lazio have started exceptionally well after the chaos in the summer and find themselves a further four points back, but remain on course to challenge for Champions League qualification.
Juventus needed a response after last weeks capitulation at Genoa. Italy’s in-form team, Atalanta, made the trip to Turin high on confidence after their incredible form in the last two months. They were weakened beforehand as the exceptional Roberto Gagliardini were ruled out but still harboured hopes of another upset. Juventus showed why they remain Italy’s best team, though. Despite missing key players like Paulo Dybala, Andrea Barzagli, Leonardo Bonucci and Dani Alves, the response was emphatic. Juve were 2-0 up inside 19 minutes after a solo goal from Alex Sandro and a strong header from Bonucci’s replacement Daniele Rugani from a corner. Mario Mandzukic made it three in the second half from another corner. Atalanta pulled one back at the end through Remy Freuler’s lovely volley after a fine attack but Juve won 3-1. Atalanta played well and could have scored when the score were still 2-0 to really mount a comeback, but Juve were too strong.
Milan remain consistent following a hard fought 2-1 win over Crotone at San Siro. Crotone opened the scoring after Marcus Rohden set up Diego Falcinelli to score from close range following a counter-attack. Mario Pasalic equalised just before half time from a corner. Mbaye Niang missed a penalty which seemed to prove decisive, but Gianluca Lapadula scored his fourth goal of the season with four minutes remaining to make it 2-1 to Vincenzo Montella’s team. They remain four points behind Juventus in third.
Napoli returned to form this week after hammering Inter 3-0 at San Paolo. A blistering start laid the groundwork for the win as Piotr Zielinski and Marek Hamsik scored within the first six minutes to put Napoli 2-0 up. Inter came back strongly and created to big chances Mauro Icardi failed to convert. Napoli were always dangerous though, and Lorenzo Insigne made it 3-0 early in the second half to kill Inter off. That win was followed by a 2-1 win at Benfica in the Champions League to send Napoli through as group winner. Is Maurizio Sarri’s team finally hitting their stride?
Marco Borriello rolled back the years when he put Cagliari 1-0 up at Pescara with a beautiful goal. On the run, Borriello control-headed the ball into his path and placed his shot out of Albano Bizzarri’s reach. The Sardinians were denied the three points though, as Gianluca Caprari equalised in stoppage time to save a vital point for Massimo Oddo’s side.
Torino suffered a 2-0 loss at Sampdoria to halt their spectacular form, as Edgar Barreto opened the scoring from a corner when he collected the ball, span and finished with Joe Hart looking on in despair. With seconds remaining, Patrick Schick added a second. Sampdoria has really found some consistency after a poor start. Good work by Marco Giampaolo.
Sassuolo has being playing good football with terrible results lately, but finally won with a 3-0 battering of Empoli. Midfield sensation Lorenzo Pellegrini opened the scoring from a penalty after about 20 minutes before Federico Ricci added a second penalty fifteen minutes later. Ricci later set up Antonio Ragusa for the third, and Sassuolo can breath this week after their recent poor form has dragged them closer to the relegation zone.
Valter Birsa had the chance to give Chievo three points against Genoa, but blasted his shot over. A point at home is not what “the donkeys” would have wanted, but they would have to settle for it after the miss. I said last week that Genoa needed consistency, and while a point at Chievo isn’t bad at all, this was the type of game they need to win if they are to push on up the table.
Palermo changed managers in the week, as Roberto de Zerbi was sacked and Eugenio Corini brought in to replace him. They started well under Corini, but still lost. Federico Bernardeschi is flying at the minute, and opened the scoring from the penalty spot to put Fiorentina 1-0 up. Palermo responded through Mato Jajalo’s brilliant free-kick, but in stoppage time Khouma Babacar made it 2-1 and condemned Palermo to an eighth successive league loss and they are now TEN games without a win. Corini has his work cut out for him.
Udinese celebrated the clubs’ 120th birthday on Monday night with a 1-0 win against Bologna. The game headed towards a goalless draw when Silvan Widmer’s cross reached Danilo in the 93rd minute. The Brazilian finished with a flying half-scissor kick to win the game for the home side. Incredible.
Player of the week
Piotr Zielinski was terrific at San Paolo, scoring the opener and providing a fantastic assist for the second.
Coach of the week
Maurizio Sarri set up Napoli to hammer Inter, and they duly did. 3-0 and Napoli maybe can go on a run now.
Goal of the week
Danilo’s scissor-kick. Look at this.