Roma have defeated Lazio 4-1 at the Stadio Olimpico in the Derby della Capitale on Sunday afternoon and maintained their good run of form under coach Luciano Spalletti in Serie A.
Stephan El Shaarawy scored the first for the Giallorossi before Edin Dzeko netted their second shortly after the break. Marco Parolo scored what in the end was a consolation goal before Alessandro Florenzi and Diego Perotti sealed the win near the end for Roma.
The result ended an almost perfect weekend for Roma, with AC Milan, Fiorentina and Napoli all dropping points in the race for Champions League football.
El Shaarawy shines again
In terms of January transfers, El Shaarawy, initially on loan at Roma from AC Milan after his short and failed stint at French side Monaco, did not make too many headlines.
Many had already written off the Italian international’s career; he had failed to kick on since his breakout as a teenager at the San Siro.
But six goals in nine appearances for the Giallorossi since January have turned his fortunes around and now he is set to be included in Antonio Conte’s Italy squad for Euro 2016, something that was unthinkable back in December.
Questions will be asked in the Lazio defence as to why El Shaarawy was given so much space in the box but he took his goal so well and gave Roma the vital lead as they kicked on to derby delight.
Without the fans, the derby is nothing
One of the standout fixtures in Italian football, the Rome Derby is always looked forward to by fans across the globe. Known for its intense atmosphere and fiery on-field action, it is truly one of the biggest derbies in Europe.
On the pitch, it delivered. Five goals, a red card and all in all an enthralling game, Roma against Lazio once again was highly entertaining.
But anyone watching the game could not have overlooked what happened in the stands or rather what did not happen. The choreography is usual stunning at the match but the ultras decided to stay away for the game. The curve were empty as fans protested against their own clubs for what they perceive as mismanagement, as well as the new security measures at the Stadio Olimpico. The atmosphere was thus subdued.
Instead, the fans gathered in their own traditional areas of the city to cheer on their sides. An agreement needs to be reached soon to resolve the issue. Both parties are hurting each other, with the result a derby game that is missing its x-factor. Until that is done, the Rome Derby will not be considered the biggest game in Italy let alone the biggest derby in Europe.
Napoli in Roma’s sights
It is not often that all the results in one day go your way. But that is what happened to Roma on Sunday as they saw both AC Milan and Napoli lose very winnable away trips and Fiorentina only draw to mid-table Sampdoria. The result of it all is that Roma are now firmly in third position and the final Champions League spot although that would only be good enough for a play-off berth.
The importance of not having to go through a play-off, where Lazio fell at the start of the season, is crucial. That is why Luciano Spalletti’s men will have second-placed Napoli firmly in their sights. Napoli were shocked by Udinese on Sunday in what was a collapse with both Gonzalo Higuain and coach Maurizio Sarri being sent off. The former, who could be suspended for a few weeks given his outburst as he was sent off, will be vital given he has scored nearly 50% of Napoli’s goals this season.
With Roma having picked out 25 out of a possible 27 points in their last nine Serie A games, the pressure is firmly on Napoli to improve or potential face the dreaded play-off.