ROME (AP) A 1-1 draw in the Rome derby was an appropriate result amid unusual solidarity between normally warring supporters of Lazio and Roma on Sunday following the shooting death of a high-profile fan.
Both ends of the Stadio Olimpico paid tribute to Fabrizio “Diabolik” Piscitelli, the former Lazio “ultras” chief who was shot dead at point-blank range in an unsolved murder last month.
Despite stifling humidity, the match was highly entertaining and featured six shots off the woodwork – four by Lazio (Lucas Leiva, Ciro Immobile, Joaquin Correa and Marco Parolo) and two by Roma (both by Nicolo Zaniolo).
Roma’s penalty was due to new and stricter handball rules.
Edin Dzeko saw Sergej Milinkovic-Savic raise his arm and struck the extended limb to earn the spot kick converted by Kolarov, the former Lazio fullback.
Luis Alberto’s goal came with a blistering shot through a crowded area.
The result will likely leave both sides frustrated.
Lazio, last season’s Italian Cup champion, will rue missed chances after hitting the goal frame so many times, while Roma has now drawn twice in its opening two matches under new coach Paulo Fonseca.
Roma has undergone a complete overhaul following a turbulent offseason that included the resignation of former captain Francesco Totti from his management position and the departure of Daniele De Rossi to Boca Juniors.
Police were on high alert for fan tensions following Piscitelli’s murder and the subsequent controversy over a public funeral. But there were no immediate reports of clashes or serious violence.
Many Lazio fans wore shirts that said “Diablo” to honor Piscitelli’s nickname, “Diabolik.”
Lazio supporters held aloft a huge banner featuring an image of Piscitelli before kickoff and Roma fans responded with smaller banners that read, “Rest in peace, Fabrizio” and “Fly high! Ciao Diablo.”
The “curva nord” – northern end – where Lazio’s hard-core fans sit stood silently during the first half in protest at the club’s decision not to express condolences over the death of Piscitelli, who had a long criminal record.
Lazio’s players were told not to celebrate below the “curva nord” to respect the fans’ protest and Luis Alberto kept his distance despite scoring at that end.
Liverpool’s 2016-17 season was baffling for neutrals and agonizing for supporters; How did one of the world’s best managers and most talented attacks manage to go unbeaten against the best teams in the Premier League yet lose six matches to non-traditional powers?
There’s pressure on Jurgen Klopp, he of the tremendous tactical and motivational reputation, to find the answers to those questions and flip the script this season.
Best, worst case scenarios – The best scenario is pretty easy; The Reds don’t have the depth right now to compete for a quadruple or anything historically lofty, but on a match-by-match basis they can hang with any team in the Premier League or UEFA Champions League. Winning one is not out of the question, and scooping a pair of trophies from their four competitions is probably their ceiling.*
*This assumes the Reds don’t add Virgil Van Dijk, Naby Keita, and/or a number of other big name targets.
The worst case scenario is Klopp’s fire burns his players, whose defensive depth fails the test of a congested schedule and falls in all four pursuits and also manages to finish short of the Top Four. A season in the Europa League then hampers their 2018-19 preparations and life begins, probably with a new manager.
Star player:Sadio Mane — Philippe Coutinho is better, but as long as his future remains in even minimal doubt, let’s wax about another player. Mane arrived from Southampton with a bit of hype, probably not as much as he deserved, and totally delivered when healthy. The Senegalese 25-year-old scored 13 goals and added 8 assists in his first year at Anfield, one that stuttered thanks to the Africa Cup of Nations and was stopped early by a knee injury. His star could rise even higher this season.
Coaches’ Corner: Jurgen Klopp — The German is claiming Liverpool can win the Premier League. In order to do that, he’ll have to overcome a penchant for losing to lesser lights in both England and his previous stint at Borussia Dortmund. The fiery players’ manager and tactician oversaw a team that the casual viewer would figure won the league based solely on performances against top sides, but falling short against lower half sides (Crystal Palace, Burnley, Bournemouth, Swansea City, Hull City, Leicester City) cannot be the name of the game again this season.
PST predicts: Depending on additions before the August transfer window closes, a prolonged European run will test the Reds defense and depth in ways last season did not. The ceiling is high for the Reds, who could win any competition or fall flat. It’s a massive year for Klopp, who needs a trophy of some sort. We predict he’ll get one via the FA or League Cup.