Jose Mourinho Adds Another Layer Of Intrigue To Injury-Hit Rome Derby

The Rome derby is one of the most passionate in world football, pitting AS Roma against Lazio at the Stadio Olimpico, the Italian capital’s two clubs going head-to-head in a battle for local pride and bragging rights.

With Roma sitting one point and one place above their bitter rivals, they currently occupy the fourth and final Champions League berth in Serie A, meaning this latest edition is certainly not lacking in tension.

Of course, that wouldn’t stop Jose Mourinho from stoking the flames. Lazio director Igli Tare made himself an easy target for the Portuguese Coach this past week, labelling the UEFA Conference League “the losers’ competition.”

Just a few days later, Lazio dropped into the next round of that trophy after dropping out of the Europa League, prompting a delighted Mourinho to focus his aim on former striker Tare.

“I think Lazio have now become the favourites to win the Conference League. I say this with honesty,” he told reporters at a press conference earlier this week. “Lazio have the coach, the players, and the team to do it.

“Maybe the problem is that they have Mr. Tare who doesn’t want to win it because he doesn’t like this competition…”

There is no doubt that both teams will be desperate to win when they clash on Sunday evening, despite recent clashes being tamer than previous editions. Indeed, in the three points for a win era, no match-up has seen more than the 35 shared by these two sides, yet there has not been a sending off in any of their last six meetings.

Roma are nominally the home side this time around, and their record when hosting the derby has been superb, losing just two of the last 24 derbies when that is the case. The most recent of those was back in 2017 and the Giallorossi have recorded four wins and a draw in the last five such encounters.

To win this time around however, they will need to overcome a long injury list. Mourinho will go into this weekend with Ebrima Darboe, Paulo Dybala, Leonardo Spinazzola, and Georginio Wijnaldum all sidelined.

That will place a heavy burden on Tammy Abraham in attack, but the England striker is struggling for goals. He last found the net in Serie A on September 12 against Empoli, scoring just once since then after bagging a Europa League goal in the win over HJK last week.

But while Roma need their star striker to shine, Lazio must cope without theirs, Ciro Immobile expected to miss out as he has yet to recover from a hamstring injury suffered in mid-October.

Also absent for Maurizio Sarri’s men will be Sergej Milinković-Savić, who has been one of Serie A’s best midfielders so far this season. The Serbia international has already weighed in with five goals and seven assists for the Biancocelesti, but will serve a one-match ban after collecting his fifth yellow card of the campaign last weekend.

His absence will be sorely felt, but it will not detract from the importance of this clash, as once again all eyes turn to Rome for another instalment of the Derby della Capitale.