José Mourinho and Maurizio Sarri’s first Derby Della Capitale was one to remember with the usual drama and controversy, typical of games between Lazio and Roma, writes Richard Hall.
Once again, the Derby Della Capitale had everything. Goals, controversy and plenty of excitement. Lazio emerged victorious with Maurizio Sarri’s side ending a four-game winless run by beating Jose Mourinho’s Roma, 3-2. There were goalkeeping errors, penalty claims, and the inevitable post-match reaction from the Giallorossi coach. However, it has to be said that both sides will look back on this game praising their endeavour and being wary of some of the mistakes.
Sarri was in full voice at the end of the game, parading around the pitch with the iconic club’s eagle in his hand, shouting passionately to the Curva Nord. Mourinho instead had his players in a huddle, no doubt telling them they were unlucky. However, it could be argued that this was not the case, as Lazio seemed to have the measure of them. Admittedly, the opening goal from Sergej Milinkovic-Savic came from an error from Rui Patricio, the goalkeeper came charging out to intercept a pass and only managed to connect with the player and not the ball.
Perhaps the story of the day was Lazio’s second goal by Pedro; the former Roma winger was the last man to score in the Derby Della Capitale, although that was for the Giallorossi. The celebrations were not muted as Lazio showed that their counter-attacking threat was nullifying the ‘away’ side. The longer the game went on the more obvious it was that Mourinho’s side did not have a response and they became a shadow of what they had been in previous weeks. Slow, turgid and cautious is not the side we have been watching thus far but as the game went on it seemed that only Nicolo Zaniolo or a set-piece was going to be an aggressive option for them.
When Zaniolo eventually left the field, the frustration was there for all to see as his lewd gesture towards the Lazio fans may see him incur a ban. This feeling continued after the game as Mourinho didn’t attend his post-match presser over disagreements with Lazio’s policy for post-match press conferences. In some ways, this Derby simply explained what football in Rome is all about. Passion, anger and excitement, not to mention drama, however, deep down, the Portuguese coach will be annoyed Roma did not give a better account of themselves.
Lazio were not there for the taking by any means. They were adventurous and followed the game plan well but showed signs of weakness, especially from set pieces. Roma perhaps were missing the now Inter-based, Edin Dzeko, as they offered little chance of profiting from Jordan Veretout’s superb deliveries, especially when Pepe Reina looked hesitant to come for the ball. Roger Ibanez was the only man who benefited from this making the Spanish goalkeeper look inept, it was a sign that Roma had found a way in, but one they ignored.
In Serie A, Lazio will hope to improve their form by beating Bologna before having the challenging task of welcoming Simone Inzaghi and his Inter team. Sarri’s Lazio are far from the finished article but they showed that they could handle the pressure in a big game and to win the Derby is a monstrous coup in Rome. Mourinho could argue (had he taken the press conference), that his team look more complete and were perhaps just lacking creativity in this game of games. They will have to bounce back quickly against Empoli next week, as Juventus and Napoli are the two fixtures after that.
The Derby Della Capitale certainly delivered in all aspects but what it tells about both teams is that improvements are needed. Despite playing, a good counter-attacking game Lazio still looked flawed defensively and it was Roma’s lack of invention that saw them not punished more. Pepe Reina may have made some good saves at the end but still looks like a liability. On the other hand, Roma seem to go stagnant when the game isn’t going their way, but they still look united and motivated despite the loss. The Derby is always hard to use as a barometer to see where the teams sit but that is part of the fun. No matter what happens with the teams in Rome, it is Lazio 1-0 Roma this season, that’s all that counts until the next time.