ROME, ITALY - The Italian season culminates this weekend as city rivals Roma and Lazio go head-to-head in the Coppa Italia final and the stakes couldn't be higher. The victors, as well as condemning their neighbours to a cup final defeat, will also collect a place in next season's UEFA Europa League, adding extra spice to Sunday's Roman showdown.
The bookmakers make Roma the slight favourites in the match winner market, although their price of 7/5 with Paddy Power has been on the drift as punters remain undecided. Lazio, who finished in 7th position and one point behind Roma, are chalked up a best price of 21/10 with Boylesports to lift the trophy in 90 minutes. Finally, the draw, which looks the best value in my opinion, is available to back at 12/5 with Bet Fred and Bet365.
Let's start by taking a look at Roma. The giallorossi leapfrogged Lazio on the final day of the season with an impressive 2-1 victory over Napoli. However, Daniele De Rossi, Federico Balzaretti, Marquinhos and Maarten Stekelenburg missed the game though injury and remain doubtful for Sunday's final. Better news for Roma is the return of leader and captain Francesco Totti - who returns from suspension.
Totti, who scored in the previous encounter (1-1) with Lazio, looks decent value at 6/1 with Paddy Power to open the scoring. The 36 year-old Italian is an expert penalty taker and has netted 12 goals in 34 games this season. Ladbrokes go 15/8 on Totti to score anytime for those who like a little insurance with their goal scorer bets.
Miroslav Klose heads the goal scorer market and can be backed at 11/2 with Skybet to score first. He will be a popular choice with the punters after scoring 15 goals in 29 league games. The 34 year-old Lazio striker scored an incredible haul of FIVE goals against Bologna this month in a 6-0 rout, but I remain unconvinced with Lazio's recent form and believe Roma have all of the momentum heading into this fixture and look a better shout to score first.
Lazio ran out of gas just at the wrong time this season. At one point they were pushing Juventus at the head of the table and looked nicely poised in the Europa League; however, things began to unravel when losing their German talisman for a significant period to injury. They finished in the season in a disappointing seventh place and were knocked out of Europe by Fenerbahce.
The biancolesti have injury concerns over Anderson Hernanes, Stefan Radu, Michael Ciani and Ogenyi Onazi. Although the Brazilian playmaker Hernanes was training with the first team earlier this week and should line up on Sunday evening. A welcome boost for the Lazio fans.
As mentioned earlier, the previous meeting between the two sides finished 1-1 and I fancy a repeat here as it's hard to split the two sides in 90 minutes. You back the correct score of 1-1 at 13/2 with BetVictor. Eventually, I fancy Roma to prevail and the price of 12/1 with Skybet on the giallorossi to win by penalties looks excellent value.
For both sets of fans the whole season's rests on this one match. Win and their season ends in success. Lose and it will be a long summer ahead.
The game kicks off at 4 p.m. on Sunday 26th May 2013 and is live on ESPN HD.