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Football Reporting


Lazio, Roma managers lament absence of fans ahead of derby

Lazio manager Simone Inzaghi and his Roma counterpart Paulo Fonseca have lamented the absence of fans in Friday’s derby.

The capital sides face off in the first Rome derby of the season (Friday at 2.45 p.m. ET, live on ESPN+), and it will be the first meeting between the two teams without any spectators as both encounters last season came before the coronavirus-enforced lockdown.

Lazio were just a point off top spot before Serie A came to a halt and eventually finished the campaign in fourth. This season, without fans in the stands from the start, the Biancocelesti are eighth in the table and struggling for consistency.

“The absence of fans is massive for us, as it has been since the pandemic,” Inzaghi told a news conference ahead of the clash with Roma. “With the fans, we were a winning combination.

“Football post-COVID has changed for us and for all the other teams. In terms of our motivation, winning [the derby] would be a huge boost for us.”

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Fonseca agreed with Inzaghi, despite his side being the visitors for this encounter at the Stadio Olimpico which the teams share.

“[Playing without fans] is never an advantage,” Fonseca said, when asked whether it would benefit his Roma side. “Myself and the players would always prefer to play in front of fans.

“Playing without spectators is the worst thing. We all want fans back.”

Victory would would move Roma a point behind second-place Inter Milan, who face Juventus (Sunday at 2.45 p.m. ET, live on ESPN+).

Both matches finished in a draw last term and, when it was put to Fonseca that he has yet to win a derby della Capitale, he replied: “I’ve never lost one either.”

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