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Tactical Analysis

Tactical Analysis | Lazio 1-2 Roma: How the Derby della Capitale was won and lost

Another ‘’Derby de la capitale ‘’, another win for Roma. The fight for the Champions League spot is what made this clash even more special as Roma were before this game on 2nd place with 67 points and Lazio 3rd with 66, meaning that the winner of this game was able to secure a ticket for the Champions League 15/16.



Lazio: 22 Marchetti // 18 Gentiletti, 3 De Vrij, 8 Basta, 19 Lulic //16 Parolo, 20 Biglia, 87 Candreva, 7 Anderson //6 Mauri, 11 Klose

Roma: 26 De Sanctis //24 Manolas, 2 Mbiwa, 25 Holebas, 35 Torosidis // 20 Keita, 16 De Rossi 4 Nainggolan // 7 Iturbe, 24 Florenzi, 10 Totti

Goals: Djordjevic // Iturbe, Mbiwa

First 15 minutes

The game started off with two energetic teams, high pressure with plenty of direct-plays often seeing the long-balls being played. With Lazio in the build-up process we could often see how the central-defender would split up and the play-maker/link-up player of Lazio: Biglia dropping deep between the central-defenders. This move, made De Vrij and Gentiletti positioning themselves a bit wider, which eventually made the full-backs of Lazio position themselves even wider, higher up the pitch (almost midfielders).

This style of Lazio also gave enough freedom for Antonio Candreva and Felipe Anderson move freely, penetrating and finding the spaces needed for them to threaten the opposition as both players have the ability to dribble with great pace and control towards the opposition defense, being Lazio’s main threats for the opposition teams.

With Candreva and Anderson whom would often be seen dropping deep to get in between the opposition defensive lines, Dusan Basta and Sedan Lulic were given the freedom to penetrate the flanks to keep the width within the team, while Lucas Biglia and Marco Parolo positioning themselves centrally switching areas to penetrate depending on the situations.

With Roma in the first 15-20 minutes of the 1st half, pressing higher with all parts of the team, leaving plenty of spaces behind the defense, we saw a couple of dangerous attacking situations occur because of the free positioning of Candreva and Anderson, which made it hard for Roma to defend against.

A situation early on in the 1st half, where the centre-back Santiago Gentiletti has the ball (notice his position is a bit wider than the normal centre-back position) and Biglia between (Stefan De Vrij not seen in this picture). The blue-circled players are the full-backs where you can notice how wide and how they are starting to penetrate higher up the pitch. What is interesting, is the red-circled player which is Candreva, whom has left his position to seek the ball, acting as a central-midfielder.


(Notice the high defensive line of Roma, with Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa preventing the offside-line) Now Candreva starts to position himself away from the space he has penetrated, in this situation Anderson has dropped deep occupying Seydou Keita, and Parolo occupying the #10 role.

Now what Candreva did was to fully burst in to the space behind the opposition defense, with a long ball being played from Gentiletti, proofing how ‘’freely’’ Candreva and Anderson are able to position themselves depending on situations to try and find attractive spaces to threaten. These type of situations did occur plenty of times and Lazio were more than often finding a way to play through the Roma defense, with the most dangerous chance when Miroslav Klose was found with a cross in to the penalty-box 5 meters away from the goal, but did unfortunately blow the opportunity to give Lazio the early lead.

Defensive change(s)

Roma were forced to change their approach in to this game, to a more defensive one, trying to find a way to counter and block Lazio’s way to the threating spaces that Lazio were able to find.

The change of Roma was to move much deeper with the defensive-line and playing zonal defense + zonal-marking (Danielle De-Rossi). A change which meant that when in defense: Alessando Florenzi and Juan Iturbe dropped deeper in wide areas, helping their full-backs which gave the wing-players of Lazio more space to penetrate in, almost inviting Lazio in to the pressing-traps to then counter with Florenzi and Iturbe behind De Vrij or Gentiletti.


Roma forming a 4-3-2-1-ish formation, with De Rossi always as the defensive-midfielder defending in front of Kostas Manolas & Mbiwa behind Francesco Totti-Seydou Keita-Radja Nainggolan.

An interesting change from Rudi Garcia was to have Nainggolan and Keita cover/block the half-space‘’c hannels’’ for Lazio to find. So whenever for-example: De Vrij got the ball, Nainggolan was seen pressing De Vrij with aggressive approach while the other 2 players following the press of Nainggolan, covering the spaces behind. This eventually prevented Lazio from finding the balls in to the half-spaces. If say the ball was to be played from De Vrij to Candreva instead, then Iturbe was the one to set the press. Another interesting change and meaning of the switch, was that if say Candreva/Anderson were seen dropping deep to try and find the ball then Nainggolan or Keita (depending on the situation, position) would be the one to set the press/mark the player occupying their zone(s).


I choose to mark Florenzi, De Rossi and Iturbe with a red circle, to show you the positions of these players when in defense. In this situation we can also notice the 3-man-defensive line of Roma upfront with: Tott-Keita-Nainggolan (notice now how much deeper Roma is defending, with no spaces at all behind the defense).


Blocking the central midfield by the 3 central players ( Totti-Keita-Nainggolan ) with De-Rossi behind the central 3, playing a man-man marking. This also shows you how the attacking-wingers of Roma defended wide, but much deeper than in the first 15-20 minutes of the game.

This made it harder for Lazio to find any real threats centrally as Roma moved in defense much more organizationally and compact, and if Lazio was to play the ball to the wide-areas, then Roma were able to out-number Lazio to try and recover the ball.

Out with the old & in with the new

The 2nd half started off in a quite similar way to the 1st half, with both teams energetic and aggressive in the approach not giving the opposition enough time on the ball.
Though Roma eventually won this game, Lazio were a more dangerous team, finding the through balls to the central positioned players who were more than often seen free, with the Lazio players in possession of the ball attacking the defense with great speed.

Normally Roma is seen as a team trying to play a ‘’ Juego de Pocesion ‘’ but talking in statistic manner, this game was won by Lazio, who had: 62 % of ball-possession vs Roma 37 %, Lazio had 344 passes completed vs Roma’s 164 and Lazio had 16 shots vs Roma’s 6.

A major blow for Lazio in this game was the “final balls” opportunities to play the pass into the attacking-third. By final-ball, I mean finding the passes into the dangerous spaces between the Roma goal and defense, which were blocked or ‘’thrown away’’ because of a bad pass, which basically made Lazio very inefficient in many ways, and also a goal which led to Lazio conceding the 1st goal of the game.

In the 2nd half, Rudi Garcia was clearly focusing on the counter-attacks knowing how the full-backs of Lazio joined the attacks positioning themselves wide and higher up the pitch, so what he did was to change Totti and bring in the explosive Colombian winger: Victor Ibarbo, while Iturbe positioned to a more central #9 role and Florenzi still playing wide. This made Roma much more threatening on the counters and had their main focus to attack the spaces behind the full-backs of Lazio.

This is after an unsuccessful attack of Lazio, where Luis Pedro Cavanda was positioned high up the pitch, joining the attack. So now when the ball was won back by Roma, Miralem Pjanic positioned himself in the zone (behind Parolo so that he was forcing a defender to occupy him, if not then Pjanic would have been free in a 3v3 situation) staying close to Ibarbo. The position of Pjanic, opens up space for Ibarbo and Iturbe as you see how he has forced the Lazio defender to leave his position and open up a very dangerous space.

The ball is eventually played to Pjanic who flicks it back to Nainggolan who is then attacking the space with Roma creating a 4v3, counter-attacking with quick direct short passes.

4v3 attack and advantage now for Roma, with Nainggolan playing the ball wide to Ibarbo whom eventually played the cut-back pass to Iturbe finding the net for Roma.
This attack shows you that in football you do not need to have most of the ball-percentage, but to be efficient in the opportunities you get to score the goal as Roma did.


Maybe the result & statistics did not tell the story of this match, but it did certainly tell you that you have to be efficient in football to win games, and that is exactly what Roma did. 6 opportunities, 3 of them being from ‘’dangerous’’ areas and with 2 of them finding the net.

Lazio though, were in my opinion the better side in the derby de la capitale, but needs to focus to try and get the last chance for a Champions League spot.

Lazio has had a fantastic season and manager, Stefano Pioli, has done a terrific job creating a strong Lazio side, with a desire of actually playing attractive football. I do personally believe that Lazio will become even stronger for next season with some transfers to upgrade the overall quality of the squad.

Written by Albin Sheqiri

Albin Sheqiri

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