Soccer Italy Serie A 20 March 2023
Lazio vs AS Roma - Match Preview
A 180th competitive Rome derby since the inaugural Serie A (SA) season in 1929/30 will see Lazio face off with eternal rivals Roma amid a hotly contested battle for the top four places and Champions League football next season. The Eagles hold a two-point advantage over their old foes and will be looking to bounce back after being eliminated from the UEFA Europa Conference League, following a 4-2 aggregate loss to Dutch outfit AZ Alkmaar. Coach Maurizio Sarri admitted that Lazio ‘deserved to go out’ claiming the squad ‘doesn’t have the structure to play more than one competition at a time.’
After a run of three straight SA wins, talismanic striker Ciro Immobile’s absence was felt as Lazio drew 0-0 at Bologna last round, and they could be in for another struggle here against their fierce rivals with their star player set to miss out again. Their focus may shift to the prioritising defence which has already kept 15 SA clean sheets this term, including six in their last ten such outings (W5, D4, L1), with only Barcelona having more (19) in Europe’s top five leagues.
A goalless draw away to Real Sociedad was enough for Roma to progress to the Europa League quarter-finals, with José Mourinho appreciating his players for their ‘sacrifice’ to play through injuries. His charges will have to do without him once more here as he is serving a two-game touchline ban in SA, which led him to the decision not to speak to the media until it‘s over.
Mourinho‘s absence was felt at the Stadio Olimpico in their last league outing, as Roma fell to a 4-3 defeat against Sassuolo and complicated their fight for the top-four with their second defeat in three SA matches (W1). Both defeats also saw Roma concede the opening goal within the first 20 minutes of play, so they’ll hope that the derby atmosphere focuses their minds from the off as they look to end a run of six winless games in this famous fixture as the designated away side (D2, L4).
📋 Players to watch: After netting the winner in the 1-0 reverse H2H success, Felipe Anderson became the joint-highest Brazilian scorer in Rome derby history with three, while he also opened the scoring in the midweek defeat at AZ. Roma’s Paulo Dybala has netted 11 goals against Lazio in his career, while he’s also scored 29 goals from outside the area since his arrival in SA – more than any other player in that period.
⚡ Hot stat: Lazio have conceded only four goals before the break in SA matches – the fewest in Europe’s top five leagues.
Inter vs Juventus - Match Preview
With 55 Serie A (SA) titles between them, Inter Milan (19) host Juventus (36) with a massive opportunity to cement their spot in the top-four. With it looking highly likely four sides are battling it out for three UEFA Champions League places behind runaway leaders Napoli, two of the sides in that mix, Roma and Lazio, play each other this weekend which enables Inter to open up a respectable gap on at least one of those sides with a victory here.
Inter should be the fresher of the two sides after an extra couple days' rest from their midweek European exploits, a 0-0 draw against Porto, which despite being enough to send them through, did extend their poor run to just one win from four in all competitions (D1, L2). All those failures to win came on the road though and Inter is a different animal at home, winning 15 of their last 17 SA home matches.
Juventus might like to think they’ll have something to say about Inter’s home dominance on the back of nine wins in their last 11 matches (D1, L1) which has placed them on the periphery of the battle for European places, but they haven’t tasted a league victory against Inter at the San Siro since 2019. There will likely be a burning sense of injustice coming into this clash for Juve, who will likely feel they have a point to prove knowing that without their 15-point deduction, they would actually sit above Inter in the table!
Even knowing their last six SA games to follow a European game all ended in victory, boss Massimiliano Allegri will expect a reaction from his side’s 2-0 victory over Freiburg in midweek after blasting their second-half performance, insisting they made a “lot of mistakes”. Those mistakes are undoubtedly something Juventus will need to eradicate if they are to secure a first SA H2H double with accompanying clean sheets since 1976/77.
📋 Players to watch: Ahead of the round, no player has scored more SA home goals in 2023 than the four managed by Lautaro Martínez, all of which either opened or closed the scoring. Juventus' Adrien Rabiot is one of those players he is tied with and the Frenchman opened the scoring in Juve’s 2-0 win in the reverse H2H.
⚡ Hot stat: Inter are one of just two SA sides not to trail a home league game at half-time this season. (HT: W8, D5).
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