Chances were at a premium as Lazio and Roma settled for a goalless draw in Sunday’s intense Derby della Capitale. Maurizio Sarri and Jose Mourinho were happier to avoid losing than claim bragging rights on the Tiber.
In a game of few opportunities, Roma dominated the opening exchanges before Lazio sprung into life midway through the first half. Romelu Lukaku and Rick Karsdorp came close to putting the Giallorossi in front inside the first 15 minutes. Luis Alberto and Alessio Romagnoli fired warning shots on the end, but to no avail.
Everything meaningful happened in the first half as the match descended into disarray after the break, leading to zero clear-cut chances beyond halftime. As is often the case in derbies of this magnitude, the encounter entered its final stages with the teams content with avoiding defeat.
Despite a relatively uneventful performance from both sides, the 181st Derby della Capitale didn’t lack dramatic moments. Referee Davide Massa had a lot on his plate as he had to show as many as eight yellow cards to relax the tensions.
Let’s look at the best and worst performers of the game.
Derby della Capitale Tops
His first-half save to deny Romagnoli’s devastating header was the turning point. It was Lazio’s first and final presentable chance. Who knows what would’ve happened if he hadn’t made that superb goal-line clearance?
Matias Vecino’s second-half screamer comfortably finished in his safe pair of gloves.
Regardless of which side of the spectrum of supporting Lazio and Roma you stand, it’s hard to make a case for anyone other than Guendouzi winning the ‘Player of the Match’ award. The Marseille loanee was the beating heart of Sarri’s set-up today.
Equally impressive on both ends of the field, he made numerous defensive interceptions and was ever-present in the build-up play.
Chris Smalling can probably forget about recovering his place in the starting XI once he returns from injury. Llorente showed his defensive credentials with another sensational performance at the heart of Roma’s backline.
His tackles were well-measured, his positioning was impeccable, and unlike Gianluca Mancini and Evan Ndicka, he kept a cool head under pressure.
He was supposed to pull all the strings and dictate the pace. Instead, he vanished from the field after the opening ten minutes. Dybala had often been a difference-maker against Lazio during his career at Juventus. But, the illustrious forward turned on a ‘stealth mode’ today.
If any player on the pitch grasped the significance of this fixture, it was Pedro. The 36-year-old veteran swapped Roma for Lazio in 2021, and this was his eighth appearance in the Derby della Capitale.
Not only has Pedro failed to add to his two-goal tally in this match-up, but he let the game pass him by.
Considering Lazio’s underwhelming form at the start of the season, this looked like a prime opportunity for Mourinho to avenge a brace of 1-0 derby defeats last term. However, the ‘Special One’ resorted to his old tricks, opting not to concede rather than score.
Even though his side struggled to gain a foothold in the front third, Mourinho’s first substitution came in the 82nd minute. It perhaps best illustrates his conservative in-game management.
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