Once bigger than El Clasico and regaining significance as pair challenge Juventus for title


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Eternal affair

Eternal City derby has fallen by wayside in recent years, but Serie A duo are fourth and second and this is worth watching

ROMA host Lazio this weekend in one of the most-anticipated derbies for years.

It’s not quite Europe’s glamour clash as it was in the late-1990s and early 2000s, but there are signs its significance is returning.

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Francesco Totti and Paolo Di Canio were rivals last time Rome derby was big

Only local pride has really been at stake in recent seasons, with die-hard Lazio fan Paolo Di Canio’s brief cameo a decade ago the only memorable clash since the pair won a Scudetto each to start the Millennium.

Keep up to date with ALL the Lazio news, gossip and transfers on our club page

The former Sunderland boss was the hero for the Biancocelesti as his determination to get one over on Roma hero, Francesco Totti turned personal.

AS Roma's Bosnian forward Edin Dzeko (2nd L), flanked by Pescara's players, celebrates with his teammates Egyptian midfielder Mohamed Salah (L) after scoring a goal during the Italian Serie A football match between AS Roma and Pescara on November 27, 2016 at Rome's Olympic stadium. / AFP PHOTO / ANDREAS SOLAROANDREAS SOLARO/AFP/Getty Images

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Edin Dzeko and Mohamed Salah have been Roma’s two best players this season

Lazio's Ciro Immobile celebrates after scoring during a Serie A soccer match between Lazio and Cagliari, at the Rome Olympic stadium Wednesday, Oct. 26, 2016. (Maurizio Brambatti/ANSA via AP)

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Ciro Immobile is finally finding best form at Lazio after failing to reach potential

epa05649383 Palermo's Ivaylo Chochev (R) and Lazio's Keita Balde in action during the Italian Serie A soccer match US Palermo vs SS Lazio at Renzo Barbera stadium in Palermo, Sicily island, Italy, 27 November 2016. EPA/CORRADO LANNINO


Bad-boy Keita Balde is also firing for Lazio this season under new boss Simone Inzahi

Back in 2000, Rome was a footballing empire.

Reigning double winners, Lazio, broke the world transfer record to sign Hernan Crespo from Parma for £35million.

Sven Goran Eriksson’s side was considered among the best on the continent as their domestic dominance had been preceded by victory in the last-ever Uefa Cup Winners’ Cup final.

A graffiti representing AS Roma's captain Francesco Totti is seen on a wall in the Garbatella district, on October 22, 2016 in Rome. Rome's football teams will play their derby Lazio vs AS Roma on December 4, 2016. / AFP PHOTO / FILIPPO MONTEFORTEFILIPPO MONTEFORTE/AFP/Getty Images

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A graffiti representing Francesco Totti shows just how idolised he is in Rome

Mannequins dressed with football jerseys of AS Roma (L) and Lazio (R) are on display outside a souvenirs shop on November 30, 2016 in Rome. Rome's football teams will play their derby Lazio vs AS Roma on December 4, 2016. / AFP PHOTO / FILIPPO MONTEFORTEFILIPPO MONTEFORTE/AFP/Getty Images

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Rome is a city divided and derby day is the biggest event of the year

Lazio's forward Paolo Di Canio gestures towards Lazio fans at the end of Lazio vs AS Roma Serie Serie A football match at Rome's Olympic stadium 06 January 2005. Lazio captain Paolo Di Canio is to be investigated by the Italian football federation (FIGC) over an alleged fascist salute during his side's 3-1 victory over bitter city rivals AS Roma. According to witnesses and photographs published in the newspapers Di Canio extended his right arm to the Lazio fans who have a history of racial abuse and suspected fascist leanings. AFP PHOTO / Paolo COCCO (Photo credit should read PAOLO COCCO / AFP / Getty Images)

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Lazio fan, Paolo Di Canio, was the hero of hometown club in 2005 derby victory

Roma's Francesco Totti celebrates with a selfie after scoring during a Serie A soccer match between Roma and Lazio at Rome's Olympic stadium, Sunday, Jan. 11, 2015. (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)

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Francesco Totti’s famous derby selfie after victory over Lazio in January 2015

Their starting XI included the likes of Alessandro Nesta, Diego Simeone, Pavel Nedved, Juan Sebastian Veron and Marcelo Salas.

While that same summer, Roma splashed out on around £30m on Fiorentina’s Gabriel Batistuta.

Just to give it some perspective, it would eight years before a Premier League club would spent that amount of money — Manchester City paying Real Madrid £32.5m for Robinho.

Hollywood celebrities like Cameron Diaz flocked to the Italian capital to watch the clash live.

Roma's Captain Francesco Totti, left, is tackled by Lazio's captain Alessandro Nesta during the Italian League soccer match between Roma and Lazio at Rome's Olympic stadium, Sunday, November 21, 1999. (AP Photo/Domenico Stinellis)

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Alessandro Nest puts a strong tackle in to stop Francesco Totti during 1999 clash


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Lazio’s Paul Gascoigne lies stricken following a heavy challenge in 1992 Rome derby

CAMERON DIAZ among high-profile stars at Lazio-Roma clashes in city’s football Golden Age

I27 - 19990411 - ROME, ITALY : AS Roma's Austrian goalkeeper Michael Konsel don't gets disturbed after a smoke bomb was thrown onto the field from the terraces during the Italian League soccer match against Lazio, at the Olimpic stadium in Rome Sunday 11 April 1999. EPA PHOTO ANSA/CLAUDIO ONORATI/to-cl


When Lazio and Roma meet, passions run high as fans are so desperate to win

Sport, Football, Italian League Serie A, Rome, Italy, 29th November 1992, Lazio 1 v AS Roma 1, Lazio's Paul Gascoigne beats the Roma defence to score a late equalising goal (Photo by Bob Thomas/Getty Images)

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Paul Gascoigne jumps up for a header as Roma and Lazio do Serie A battle in 1992

Alongside Totti and Vincenzo Montella, the Argentine created arguably the best frontline in world football.

However, since the Golden Age of football in the Eternal City, the two sides have fallen by the wayside somewhat — especially Lazio.

Roma ‘benefited’ from match-fixing scandals and a one-team league at various times to finish as runners-up EIGHT times since they lost won the Scudetto.

ROME, ITALY: AS Roma's forward Vincenzo Montella (L) scores a goal despite Lazio Roma's defender Croatian Sinisa Mihajlovic and Goalkeeper Luca Marchegiani, 21 November 1999, during the derby AS Roma-Lazio Roma at the Olympic Stadium. AS Roma beat Lazio 4-1. (ELECTRONIC IMAGE) (Photo credit should read GABRIEL BOUYS/AFP/Getty Images)

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Current AC Milan boss, Vincenzo Montella, skips past Lazio’s Sinisa Mihajlovic

ROME, ITALY: Lazio Rome captain Alesandro Nesta (G) figths for the ball with AS Roma captain Francesco Totti during their Italian first league derby game, at the Rome's Olympic Stadium, 29 April 2001. AFP PHOTO GABRIEL BOUYS (Photo credit should read GABRIEL BOUYS/AFP/Getty Images)

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Hometown heroes, Alessandro Nesta and Francesco Totti in 2001 battle

Immediately after winning the title in 2000, Lazio finished third — and have repeated that feat only twice in the subsequent 14 years.

But now, they are both quietly impressing.

Juventus’ draw at Atalanta has reignited Roma’s slim title challenge.

ROME, ITALY: AS Roma' striker argentinian Gabriel Batistuta (L) kicks the ball despite Lazio's midfielder Argentinian Diego Simeone during the derby match Lazio Rome - AS Rome, 17 December 2000 in Rome's Olympic Stadium. AFP PHOTO GABRIEL BOUYS (Photo credit should read GABRIEL BOUYS/AFP/Getty Images)

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Gabriel Batistuta fires past Diego Simeone as Roma and Lazio were top two

Lazio's Jaap Stam of the Netherlands, left, and AS Roma's Francesco Totti fight for the ball during the Italian Serie A top league soccer match AS Roma vs Lazio, in Rome's Olympic stadium, Saturday, Oct. 27, 2001. (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini)

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Jaap Stam holds off Francesco Totti as Roma and Lazio face off in 2001

A win would see them move to six points behind the leaders — while Lazio are in the Coppa Italia final.

Simone Inzaghi has transformed this Lazio team since arriving in the summer.

The club’s former striker is getting the best out of a Ciro Immobile who had so far failed to live up to his promise after disappointing spells with Borussia Dortmund and Sevilla.

While, talented bad-boy Keita Balde is now doing his talking on the pitch.

Cameron Diaz was among celebrities on show at height of Rome derby powers

Cameron Diaz was among celebrities on show at height of Rome derby powers

17 Dec 2000: Roma players celebrating after Paolo Negro of Lazio kicks the ball in his own goal during the Lazio v Roma league match at the Olympic Stadium, Rome, Italy. Digital Image. Mandatory Credit: Grazia Neri/ALLSPORT

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Roma celebrate after winning huge derby en route to Serie A title victory

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Roma, meanwhile, are getting the best out of former Premier League aces, Edin Dzeko and Mohamed Salah — and can still call on the majesty of Totti.

It’s all on the line at the Stadio Olimpico.

And the first the first time in almost a decade, it will definitely be worth watching.

Radja Nainggolan celebrates and plays footpool

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