Serie A Round 18: Lazio – Roma Preview and Expected Lineups

We are almost halfway through the season, with the games gaining more and more significance every week. In Round 18 of Serie A, we have the first city derby of the new year as Lazio take on Roma in the Derby della Capitale on Friday night.

For both teams, this is going to be more than just a matter of pride, as both Lazio and Roma are fighting to finish the season in the Champions League spot. In the previous round, Lazio collected three vital points in a game against Parma, whereas Roma were held back by Inter and had to settle for a 2-2 draw.

The Cult of Calcio is here to preview the opening match of Round 18, with an eye on the potential starting eleven of both teams.

Lazio – Roma

Serie A Round 18
Friday, 15 January 2020
Kick-off at 20:45 (CET)
Stadio Olimpico (Rome)

Recent Form – Lazio

After an impressive fourth-place finish last season, Simone Inzaghi’s men have failed, at least for now, to reach the standards of the 2019-20 campaign. Lazio are currently sitting 8thin the league standings, 5 points behind the fourth-placed Juventus, who have a game in hand. Their domestic form has been full of ups and downs, with last week’s win over Parma being the first time Lazio have won back-to-back games this season.

Speaking of the game, it was more than a comprehensive victory for the Biancocelesti, who dominated the game from start to finish in terms of threatening the opponent and chance creation. Although Inzaghi’s men had a relatively modest amount of possession (54%), they made it count with 21 attempts at goal, only 5 on target though (23.8% accuracy), and created 4 big chances compared to Parma’s none. They missed two of those, with Francesco Acerbi and Luis Alberto wasting 0.60 xG (expected goals) and 0.34 xG scoring opportunities respectively. Lazio finished the game as deserved winners, having recorded an xG of 3.03 compared to Parma’s 0.46.

Lazio’s mediocre form this Serie A season is not by no means just bad luck. Inzaghi’s men are ranked 8th for goals scored (27) and 9th for npxG (non-penalty expected goals) with 21.1. The ranking itself is not so much of a concern; however, the fact that they should have scored 6 goals fewer indicate that the chances Lazio create do not result in a high probability of scoring. The Biancocelesti are heavily reliant on their captain, Ciro Immobile, who has netted 11 times this Serie A season. According to understat, Lazio have collected almost 6 points more than they were expected to based on their performances (xPTS 22.7).

Team News and Predicted Lineups – Lazio

In this game, Inzaghi will have to cope without an important first-team player Joaquin Correa. The 26-year-old Argentine has sustained a calf injury and is expected to be sidelined for at least another week. Felipe Caicedo looks like the most likely replacement, with the Ecuadorian striker having netted six times this season. The rest of the starting eleven from the game against Parma is unlikely to change.

Expected Starting XI (3-5-2): Reina; Luis Felipe, Acerbi, Radu; Lazzari, Lucas Leiva, Luis Alberto, Milinkovic-Savic, Marusic; Immobile, Caicedo

Unavailable: Lulic, Strakosha (thigh injury), Correa (calf injury), Fares (muscle injury)

Recent Form – Roma

A draw against Inter last Sunday ended Roma’s three-match unbeaten run, which was also only the second time Paulo Fonseca’s men dropped points in the last seven matches. The Giallorossi are currently 3rd in the league table with 34 points, 6 behind the Serie A leaders Milan. A win tonight looks a must for Roma in the hope of keeping their Scudetto dream alive.

Despite taking an early lead against Inter, with Lorenzo Pellegrini opening the score in the 17th minute, Roma were relatively lucky to come away with a point on Sunday. Although Fonseca’s men shared an equal amount of possession with Inter (50% each) and had 14 attempts at goal to the Nerazzurri’s 17, they did not create a single big scoring chance throughout the whole 90 minutes. Pellegrini’s goal was valued at only 0.04 xG, with Chris Smalling recording Roma’s highest goal-scoring chance of 0.15 xG. The Giallorossi finished the game with an xG of 0.80 compared to Inter’s 1.92.

Even though Roma struggled to create big goal-scoring chances in a game against Inter, it can be put down to Inter’s solid defensive performance, as Conte’s men are renowned for limiting the opposition’s chances in the attacking third. In general, Roma are one of the better-attacking sides in the Serie A this season. They are joint-third for goals scored together with Milan (37 goals scored), and 2ndfor npxG (non-penalty expected goals) with 32.8, only behind Inter (npxG 33.7). Additionally, Roma create 3.76 goal actions per 90 minutes (4thin the league) that is a clear indication of their attacking prowess.

Teams News and Predicted Lineups – Roma

On Friday night, Fonseca is likely to make only one change following a 2-2 draw against Inter, with Bryan Cristante coming in place of Gonzalo Villar. Roma’s number one choice goalkeeper Antonio Mirante continues his recovery from a hamstring injury and should remain sidelined for at least one more weekend. Finally, after a relatively disappointing cameo against Inter, Roma’s front trio of Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Lorenzo Pellegrini (despite scoring), and Edin Dzeko will be looking to fire on all cylinders again.

Expected Starting XI (3-4-2-1): Pau Lopez; Mancini, Smalling, Ibanez; Karsdorp, Cristante, Veretout, Spinazzola; Mkhitaryan, Pellegrini; Dzeko

Unavailable: Calafiori (muscle injury), Mirante (hamstring injury), Zaniolo (ACL injury), Fazio

Lazio vs Roma – Previous Meetings

Friday’s encounter will be the 163rd meeting the two sides, with Roma having a slight edge over their cross-city rivals. So far, Roma have been victorious on 59 occasions (36.4% win ratio), whereas Lazio have won 43 matches (26.5% win ratio).

The two most recent head-to-head meetings ended in a 1-1 draw.


At this stage of the season, Roma look the stronger of the two and should be favorites in this game. However, after picking up two consecutive wins, Lazio have started to build up some momentum and will have the confidence to make it three in a row.

There is a saying that form goes out the window in derby games, and the Derby della Capitale can definitely be one of those occasions.