Lazio v Roma – Stadio Olimpico at 19:45 Live at BT Sport

One of the great dates in Italian football is the Rome derby and there’s a strong argument to be had that Sunday night’s duel in the Eternal City could well be one of the biggest Serie A battles between the capital giants in recent memory.

There’s Champions League qualification at stake. Both sides currently occupy third and fourth – the final qualification places – and the old rivals are locked on 60 points with seven games to play. With Inter Milan just a point behind (with a game in-hand), defeat here could spell disaster for either outfit.

Roma on cloud nine

Visitors Roma could be forgiven for still being on cloud nine. Having fallen 4-1 during the first leg of their Champions League quarter-final clash with Barcelona, few gave the Giallorossi hope of turning the tie around. However, head coach Eusebio Di Francesco was defiant in his belief that anything was possible.

“It’ll be a miracle, if you want, but why can’t we make it happen?” Such positivity seemed to have been merely lip service although the first leg scoreline had flattered the Catalan giants on home turf and Roma was unlucky to have conceded four goals following a valiant performance.

Opting for a change in formation to 3-4-1-2, the Wolves were at it from the get-go on Tuesday night. With the Stadio Olimpico rocking, the Giallorossi ripped into Barcelona and deservedly found themselves two goals up – the returning Radja Nainggolan instrumental in midfield.

Unbelievably, Kostas Manolas diverted a glancing header into the net with less than 10 minutes to spare to send the yellow and red side of the Eternal City in delirium. It was only the third time in Champions League history that a team had overturned a three-goal deficit in a knockout game and Roma had achieved the feat against all odds.

Lazio back on track

Lazio entered November’s international break in stunning form. The Biancocelesti had bagged W9-D1-L1 from their opening 11 outings, including a memorable scalp of Juventus at the Stadio Olimpico. But Simone Inzaghi’s troops managed just W5-D3-L5 thereafter to fall out of top-four contention.

So the Eagles deserve much credit for re-emerging as front-runners to clinch a Champions League berth. Remaining true to his forward-thinking tactics, Inzaghi’s men have found a second wind, picking up victories in four of their past seven Serie A showdowns whilst rivals have faltered around them.

Goals have continued to flow too. After bombarding Spal’s goal without success on the opening day of the season, Lazio has scored in all bar two of their league contests. In fact, no Italian top-tier team has plundered more goals than the Biancocelesti with the Eagles notching two or more goals on 20 occasions.

Goals on the agenda

Frustratingly for Inzaghi, preparation time for Sunday night will be limited due to Lazio’s involvement in the Europa League although Roma’s midweek celebrations could prove a leveler in this instance, even if Di Francesco in the Giallorossi’s dugout demands full focus on this fixture.

Recent clashes between the two great capital rivals have been electric affairs and I’m anticipating another classic with Over 2.75 Goals too big to ignore at 1.73. Lazio has seen three or more goals in 25/31 (81%) Serie A matches this term with 7/15 (47%) of their Stadio Olimpico encounters featuring Over 3.5 Goals.

Roma has adopted a much more safety-first attitude against the league’s elite but as proven in games against attacking outfits such as Napoli and Lazio, goals are always possible. The Wolves have netted in all bar two away days this term and should be comfortable in the Stadio Olimpico setting.

Asian Total Goals Betting Recommendation: Over 2.75 Goals at 1.900

By @MarkOHaire

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