Roma out to turn tables on neighbours Lazio


(Reuters) - New AS Roma coach Rudi Garcia has a chance to succeed where his three predecessors all failed by beating Lazio in the Serie A derby on Sunday.

Roma have not won any of their last five meetings against their neighbours and the 1-0 defeat in last season's Coppa Italia final was particularly bitter as it left them without European football for a second successive season.

Vincenzo Montella was the last Roma coach to enjoy a win in the derby in March 2011. Luis Enrique lost both meetings 2-1 in 2011-12, followed by a 3-2 defeat for Zdenek Zeman in the first match of last season.

By the time the sides met again, Zeman had been fired and interim Aurelio Andreazzoli was in charge. He managed a 1-1 draw in Serie A, only for his side to lose the end-of-season cup final

Since then, however, the tables appear to have turned in Roma's favour.

The club, backed by U.S. investors, splashed out 66 million euros ($88.1 million) on new signings and seem to have invested wisely in Kevin Strootman, Adem Ljajic, Mehdi Benatia and Gervinho.

They even made a profit in the transfer window thanks to the sales of Marquinhos, Erik Lamela and controversial Argentine-born Italy striker Pablo Osvaldo.

Apart from Napoli, they are the only team to have won their opening three Serie A games, scoring eight goals and conceding only one.

Club president James Palotta flew to Roma on Thursday for the game and to negotiate a contract extension for 36-year-old Francesco Totti, who is starting his 22nd season at his only professional club.

"We are working very well collectively, and everyone should feel important," said Garcia after the 3-1 win over Parma on Monday, when he preferred not to discuss the derby.

Things have been less rosy at Lazio, who have taken six points from three games and on Sunday faced protests from their supporters over a lack of transfer activity.

Fans boycotted the opening 15 minutes of the 3-0 win over Chievo Verona, missing their first goal.

Joint leaders Napoli visit troubled AC Milan, who have made a stuttering start to the campaign with new signing Kaka suffering a thigh injury on his debut against Torino.

Massimiliano Allegri's team have taken only four points and defeat at the San Siro would leave them playing catch-up, just as they had to last season, as well as re-igniting speculation about the coach's future.

Riccardo Saponara, M'Baye Niang and Ignazio Abate returned to training on Thursday but Milan still have a lengthy injury list which includes Kaka and striker Stephan El Shaarawy.

Champions Juventus (7 points), whose 1-1 draw at FC Copenhagen left them as the only Serie A side not to win in the Champions League this week, host Hellas Verona.

Inter Milan and Fiorentina, also on seven points are both away. Inter travel to Sassuolo who have yet to pick up a point on their top-flight debut and Fiorentina, without injured Germany forward Mario Gomez, are at Atalanta.

($1 = 0.7492 euros)

(Writing by Brian Homewood in Berne; Editing by Ed Osmond Reuters Messaging: To sign up for our Global Sports Forum chatroom, click on

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