Ahead of the Rome derby between Roma and city rivals Lazio, we asked Eurosport Italy’s Carlo Filippo Vardelli for some expert opinion.
Roma sit in fourth after four wins from five, looking reinvigorated under Jose Mourinho and spearheaded by former Chelsea striker Tammy Abraham.
Lazio meanwhile sit in seventh after an adequate if uninspiring start to their campaign with another former Chelsea manager, Maurizio Sarri.
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The pair face off on Sunday evening, here’s all you need to know.
How have the two managers been perceived so far during their times at their clubs?
José Mourinho is always the ‘Special One’. Despite a rather difficult period in England he started very well with Roma, playing more offensive and fun football.
Sarri, on the other hand, arrived after the – winning – experience with Juventus and, after the excellent start, he seems to have found his first difficulties. The two coaches are virtuous examples of how even non-players can become great coaches. Mourinho has always adopted a defensive tactic, while Sarri is more of an attacking coach.
Mourinho has won more, but the former Napoli coach Sarri is recognised in Italy as a master tactician.
What changes do you think both managers have made to their teams?
For Roma, there’s the formation, (from 3-4-2-1 to 4-2-3-1), and there has been the introduction of goalkeeper Rui Patricio and striker Tammy Abraham too. Matías Viña is playing and it will be interesting to know how Leonardo Spinazzola will be used when he returns from injury.
There’s a more muscular midfield and less devotion to dribbling – Gonzalo Villar no longer plays and Jordan Veretout has fewer responsibilities. Plus, Roma attacked primarily from the left under former manager Paulo Fonseca, but now they build from the right.
For Lazio, the tactics have also changed from 3-5-2 to 4-3-3, with more focus on ball possession. The attacking thrust comes through the middle rather than the width Simone Inzaghi used. There are defensive tasks for Luis Alberto and Sergej Milinkovic-Savic, who are struggling.
Before, Lazio had two wingers, now they use two full-backs and two high wide forwards. The team have found changes difficult to get used to after five years of Inzaghi, so Sarri needs time.
Where will the game be won and lost?
As always, in the midfield. Whoever controls the midfield is likely to win the game.
Which players in particular do you think will be key to the match? Is it Lorenzo Pellegrini and Sergej Milinkovic-Savic?
Pellegrini will not be there because he is banned after picking up a red in the Udinese match. For Lazio I would say Luis Alberto and for Roma, Nicolo Zaniolo.
Are either team capable of challenging for the title this season? Or is it about getting into the top four?
The two teams should aim for a place in the top four. Nothing more. To win the championship is almost impossible.
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Source: Euro Sports