We start this evening with the European matches to get to Sunday with a Lazio-Roma which this time, standings in hand, is really worth a lot
But can a derby last four days? Misunderstanding the question, someone could answer that – yes – it can even last an entire group, given the effect it has on fans and teams. But this time it’s different. The Rome derby will really last for four days, because already today – with parallel commitments in Europe – Maurizio Sarri and José Mourinho will begin to move ahead of Sunday. And it will be the coaches themselves – even if of course the call for maximum attention must start – who will already imagine themselves at the Olimpico. At the end of a practically copied journey: tonight’s away games, the obligatory night away from home, the return tomorrow morning, the withdrawal from Saturday to prepare for the most awaited match.
Yes, because here it is not a question of establishing which will be the most important challenges: those of the Cup or the championship? All are important, but Sunday’s is certainly the most heartfelt, from an emotional point of view and for the implications of the standings. Yes, because this time it won’t simply be a derby, but also a confrontation between two rivals for the Champions League area. They are there, two points apart, in full tussle with the two Milanese and who knows who else. Yes, who knows if perhaps Juve will get the fifteen points back and who knows if there is still room – strictly personal opinion: absolutely yes – for a return of Atalanta. But precisely for this reason the three points that Lazio and Rome will compete for will have a double effect: to climb positions and to enjoy the fifteen days off in the championship with a light heart. On the contrary, condemning the defeated to have to deal with two weeks of controversy.
There is no doubt that the Europa League is more important than the Conference and that the first leg result authorizes Roma to believe in qualification more than Lazio. But in both cases there will be play. For example, if many ask it, with Paulo Dybala or not? Yes, because the “light” – as Mourinho defined it – is so important as to suggest a question: is it better to preserve it, in a climate that is probably very heated, or try to close the conversation with him even more quickly? Sarri certainly also has similar, and much broader, doubts, who already knows he will have to give up two starters such as Ciro Immobile and Matìas Vecino in the derby. In this situation, is it right to “risk” Sergej Milinkovic-Savic and Luis Alberto? The feeling is that the two coaches publicly say they don’t want to make calculations – and that’s okay – but privately – and that’s okay too – they are aiming for a derby that (and it seems a paradox) is worth even more than usual. It could allow Roma to override Lazio, Lazio to bring the lead to five points. That’s why Mourinho and Sarri will be focused on tonight’s matches, but with their hearts already on Sunday. Because the derby – even for them who met in Chelsea-Manchester United in England – is something special. Especially if it lasts, like this time, even four days.
March 16 – 12:46
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