Rome derby about more than pride
There is more than just local pride at stake when Lazio and Roma go head-to-head on Sunday evening. Delio Rossi's Lazio have made a strong start to the season, winning seven of their 11 league matches, drawing one and losing three to leave them two points behind leaders Inter Milan in fourth place with 22 points.
One of the main reasons behind Lazio's form is summer loan signing Mauro Zarate. The Argentine, who is on loan from Qatar's Al Sadd, has hit seven goals so far and is expected to form part of a three-pronged attack, alongside captain Tomasso Rocchi and Goran Pandev.
Rocchi has already declared what he expects, telling Sky Italia; "I wouldn't settle for a draw. The derby is a truly great match and is important to play in. You give your all to win it, because the taste of victory is fantastic."
However, he added that league positions and current form will count for little when the match starts. "The fact that we have more points signifies that until now we are playing better. But when you play a derby I think that only the match counts, and not the form you are in."
Roma sit one place and one point away from the relegation zone, with only two wins and two draws to their name, a far cry from 2007/08 when they were 30 minutes from being crowned champions. One player who has maintained his form is veteran defender Christian Panucci, whose opening goal in the 3-1 UEFA Champions League win over Chelsea has given Roma a new sense of confidence.
It continues a good goalscoring record for Roma and Italy, and it is a run he is hoping to continue at the Stadio Olimpico. "It's a goal that I'm missing. I would be delighted to score, even if I have to be more precise than I normally am against Lazio," he told Corriere dello Sport.
League leaders Inter Milan meanwhile travel to a potentially tricky away fixture against Palermo, who have won four of their five games at their Stadio Renzo Barbera home so far.
The week has been dominated by the falling out between coach Jose Mourinho and striker Adriano, with the Brazilian expected to be sold in the January transfer window after he missed Tuesday's training citing flu. One player who will miss him if he does move on is 18-year-old striker Mario Balotelli, who would benefit more than most from Adriano's sale. He told Sky Italia; "Adriano must wait for his moment and then in January go where he wants. He's a great guy and wouldn't hurt anybody."
Should Inter slip up on the road, cross-city rivals AC Milan, who are currently in second, will be confident that they can secure all three points when Chievo visit San Siro.