Paulo Fonseca manages his last game at Stadio Olimpico on Saturday, and it’s a big one – the Derby Della Capitale against Lazio.
Roma’s penultimate game of the season puts them up against their bitter rivals, providing a platform to try and restore some pride. Although they cannot catch Lazio in the table, they can dent their opponents’ own ambitions.
Fonseca goes into this game having never beaten Lazio in his previous three attempts. He drew both derbies in his first season and lost the reverse fixture 3-0 in one of the lowest points of this campaign. There will not be too many fond memories of 2020-21 as a whole, but a better performance in this game would be important.
If Fonseca fails to guide Roma to a win, he would become the coach to have overseen the most derbies without ever winning one, matching Ottavio Bianchi (who drew all his attempts in the early 1990s) on four. This is also his last chance to win a big game, something he has struggled to achieve during his two-season tenure.
But form goes out of the window on occasions such as this and the full focus will be on getting a result. Without a derby win since 2018, Roma are hurting and want to establish their superiority again.
Fonseca has promised that Roma have prepared differently for this match and will try to defend better against counter attacks. It may be too little, too late to save his job, but it will be interesting to see if he has more success with such an approach.Embed from Getty Images
Reports suggest the coach is considering bringing Antonio Mirante back in goal, if he passes a fitness test, in place of Daniel Fuzato. With the veteran approaching the end of his time with the club as well, he will be hoping to go out on a higher note than in recent months.
In front of him, the team will set up with a back four again. Roger Ibanez is expected to return as part of that and will make his 50th appearance for the club if so.
Further forward, the likes of Gonzalo Villar and Stephan El Shaarawy may be able to start again after returning as substitutes in midweek. There could yet be a chance for Ebrima Darboe to keep his place in midfield though, amid his recent rise to the first team.
Up front, Edin Dzeko – the last Roma player to score in the derby – may get the nod again.
Roma haven’t lost both league derbies to Lazio since 2011-12, so must seek to avoid that fate. Fonseca won’t be here next season, but this is his last chance to prove what he can do in big games.
Kick-off is at 7:45pm and the game will be available to watch live on Premier Sports 2.
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