Roma and Lazio fans to protest again at derby match
As usual, matters off the field could overshadow Sunday’s Rome derby.
In a rare show of unity, fans from Roma and Lazio are planning to boycott the match in protest at the security measures which have split the Stadio Olimpico “curve” — the ends of the stadium where the hardcore supporters sit.
Less than 10,000 tickets have been sold in a stadium which seats 68,530 and is normally packed with passionate fans for the derby.
Both sets of fans have protested in several matches already this season and also did so for the first Derby della Capitale.
On the field, Roma will be looking to maintain its revival under coach Luciano Spalletti and keep up its push for the final Champions League spot.
Roma had won only one of Rudi Garcia’s last seven matches in charge, but went on an eight-match winning run under Spalletti before that streak was broken by a 1-1 draw against Inter Milan in the final match before the international break.
“One time he asked me if I needed glasses ... because a long ball to Edin Dzeko went out, so Spalletti made himself heard loud and clear,” Roma goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny said. “From that moment I became afraid, I was scared to face him in the dressing room.
“It might seem funny, but it’s significant, Spalletti does not accept mistakes on or off the pitch. That has changed our season. This fact that he is demanding of everyone is making the difference.”
Roma currently occupies third spot in Serie A, and the final Champions League spot. Its two closest challengers, Fiorentina and Inter Milan, are five points further back and host Sampdoria and Torino, respectively, on Sunday.
Also Sunday, it’s: Udinese vs. Napoli; Atalanta vs. AC Milan; Chievo Verona vs. Palermo; and Genoa vs. Frosinone.
Juventus hosts Empoli on Saturday night, shortly after Carpi’s match against Sassuolo, while last-place Hellas Verona visits Bologna on Monday.
Here are a few things to know about Serie A entering this weekend’s matches:
Gonzalo Higuain’s scoring record is raising eyebrows in Europe.
So it’s no surprise several top clubs are reportedly interested in the Napoli striker, who has netted 29 goals in 30 Serie A matches this season.
Napoli released a statement on Wednesday saying it was “astounded” by a report on an Italian television station, which aired “a series of lies” about Higuain’s relationship with the club, including that the Argentina forward has said he will not renew his contract and will be sold at the end of the season.
Napoli announced that as a result it would boycott Mediaset, and none of its employees would be giving interviews to the channel, which has paid to secure the rights to first pre- and post-match Serie A interviews.
Higuain has scored more goals on his own than five other Serie A clubs, including Napoli’s opponent Sunday, Udinese, which has found the back of the net only 26 times this season.
He is six short of the record since Serie A has had 20 teams. That mark is held by former AC Milan forward Gunnar Nordahl, who netted 35 times in 37 matches in 1949-50.
With only eight rounds remaining, the battle to avoid relegation is heating up.
Carpi has moved out of the bottom three, thanks to two straight wins, but is level on points with 18th-place Palermo and one above Frosinone.
Udinese, Sampdoria, Atalanta, Torino and Genoa are within six points of the drop zone.
Last-place Verona is nine points from safety.