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