It was a weekend that promised fireworks. Lazio against Roma on Friday night, and Internazionale hosting Juventus on Sunday: a derby that defines Italy’s capital city, leading into a game that has long been billed as the Derby d’Italia – a derby for all of Italy.
The stakes in both games were high. Lazio, after leapfrogging Roma last season to qualify for the Champions League for the first time in more than a decade, were at risk of being cut adrift from the top four in this campaign. Eighth in the table, they trailed their neighbours by six points.
Premier League: 10 talking points from the weekend action
Inter and Juventus had sights fixed on the Scudetto. The Bianconeri, champions for nine seasons running, stumbled early in this campaign before making up ground by winning their first three games of 2021. A victory on Sunday would place them one point behind Inter with a game in hand. But a loss could undo most of their recent gains over the Nerazzurri, and the league leaders Milan as well.
These are the weekends when the absence of fans in the stands is felt most keenly. Lazio did their best to create an atmosphere for what was notionally their “home” game at the Stadio Olimpico, with a pre-game lights show and a duet between violinist Andrea Casta and the guitar player Jacopo Mastrangelo. No concert, though, could ever drown out the silence of 60,000 empty seats.
Simone Inzaghi had spoken previously of his belief that Lazio’s performances have suffered without their supporters. But it was Roma who seemed unable to rouse themselves for this occasion. A calamitously casual Ibañez gifted possession to Ciro Immobile, via the boot of Manuel Lazzari, in the 14th minute. The striker buried his chance, and Lazio never looked back as they cruised to a 3-0 win.
The Biancocelesti played some eye-catching football, Luis Alberto scoring a well-taken double. It was in Milan, though, that more literal fireworks would arrive.
As Inter and Juventus emerged from the tunnel at San Siro, fans of the home team began a vast pyrotechnic display outside the ground. The kick-off was briefly delayed, but the referee Daniele Doveri soon gave the signal to begin. He had to stop play again almost immediately, with Juventus’s Leonardo Bonucci suffering discomfort in his eyes – seemingly caused by smoke or falling debris. Continue reading