AS Roma faces derby challenge in Serie A
AS Roma’s first test as Serie A leader comes in the derby against
city rival Lazio, as the Rome club tries to extend its 23-game
While Roma has erased a 14-point deficit to Inter Milan to
take the lead, Lazio has struggled near the relegation zone.
The loan signing of Italy striker Luca Toni during the
transfer window has helped continue Roma’s revival. Toni has scored
five goals and is likely to form an attacking trident with captain
Francesco Totti and Mirko Vucinic.
“We can look back on a good victory and one we had to work
hard for,” Toni said following the 2-1 win over Atalanta that put
Roma top. “Now we are top of the table and our next match, against
Lazio in the derby, is my first Rome derby and I can’t wait to play
Toni’s attacking partner Vucinic is another who is in good
form. Against Atalanta he hit his 11th of the season with the
“There’s a positive atmosphere in the changing rooms,”
Vucinic said. “For the derby we just have to win.”
Earlier in the season a Marco Cassetti goal for Roma made the
difference in a heated match that pointed to the way both sides
would fare this season.
Currently Lazio is six points above the relegation zone but
still in need of points with five matches remaining.
“It will be a great game and we really have to believe that
we can win it,” Lazio midfielder Cristian Ledesma said. “We know it
would galvanize our season to get a good result, but we know Roma
will fight all the way.”
Inter, meanwhile, can temporarily move back to the top when
it meets Juventus on Friday. The match has been brought forward to
allow Jose Mourinho’s side more time to prepare for its Champions
League semifinal against Barcelona on Tuesday.
In midweek Inter reached the Italian Cup final after a 1-0
win over Fiorentina and there is hope that it could give the team a
lift for the run in to the end of the season.
“Lately we have been a bit unlucky,” assistant coach Daniele
Bernazzani said. “We have to make sure we win our last five games
to give ourselves the chance of winning the title.”
AC Milan’s players and staff have had to look on with envy at
Roma’s ascent to the top of the league knowing that they missed two
opportunities to take top spot with draws at home to Napoli and
This weekend Leonardo’s team travels away to Sampdoria which
is level with Palermo in the fourth and final Champions League
However, there continues to be speculation surrounding
Leonardo’s future as coach following a mixed season.
“His future is in their (Milan’s directors’) hands,” captain
Massimo Ambrosini said. “I think they will base their decision on
what has happened over the last few months. Us players can only
thank Leonardo for all the hard work he has done.”
Also this weekend, it is; Chievo Verona vs. Livorno; Atalanta
vs. Fiorentina; Bari vs. Napoli; Cagliari vs. Palermo; Catania vs.
Siena; Parma vs. Genoa; Udinese vs. Bologna.