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There's no room for the likes of Lamela, Stekelenburg, Dias or Matuzalem as we go through the two squads and select the best starting XI comprising players from the old enemies

By Renato Maisani

Sunday sees the latest episode of the absorbing soap opera of the neighbours that just don't get on. Roma versus Lazio at the Stadio Olimpico is never one to turn away from, and this afternoon will see an even more keenly-fought contest due to the vital three points on offer for two sides who still harbour hopes of playing Champions League football next season.

But what if they were to join forces, just for one afternoon? From the two squads, which 11 players would be chosen to represent the Citta eterna in battle?

Taking into account both their proven ability and current form, the best XI has been selected and is shown below. Perhaps controversially, there's no place for the likes of Maarten Stekeleburg, Fernando Gago, Pablo Daniel Osvaldo and Erik Lamela of Roma, nor for Lazio's Andre Dias and Francelino Matuzalem.



FEDERICO MARCHETTI - We start with surely the toughest choice of the lot. In leaving out Stekelenburg, one is overlooking a player who has gradually forced his way into the reckoning among the top goalkeepers in the world. However, going by this season's form, Marchetti's ability to bail his side out time and again with his excellent shot-stopping ability has proven more valuable to his club's cause. He's recovered well from his disastrous World Cup campaign and the year of inactivity which followed, earning a spot in our combined XI.






ABDOULAY KONKO - Lazio splashed out €5 million on the full-back, which caused many to raise an eyebrow, but he has proven to be well worth the outlay. The former Genoa man has looked at home in the back four of Edy Reja's side, meaning that the loss of Stephan Lichtsteiner to Juventus has not been as big a blow as many had predicted.

JUAN - Luis Enrique's side have been left struggling for much of the season when it has come to their defensive issues, as was evidenced in Bergamo last Sunday. However, the Brazilian's class is not up for discussion, despite his advancing years, and he has played a huge part in key victories this term, not least when excelling both defensively and offensively against Inter.

GABRIEL HEINZE - The Argentine took no time at all to win over the Giallorossi support with his superb attitude and endeavour. He may not have the wherewithal of some of his esteemed former colleagues at the likes of Manchester United and Real Madrid, but his effort and coolness have been vaulable additions to a struggling defensive line.

SENAD LULIC - Lazio may not have boasted superior centre-backs, but they fill both full-back berths, despite the fact that the Bosnian misses out on the derby due to a knee injury. His work-rate has won over the fans after many watched his debut at San Siro on opening night through their fingers, such was his struggle to get into the game. He has since added four goals and appeared regularly in the Serie A Team of the Week.





DANIELE DE ROSSI - When they don't have him around, Roma are a different side. Simply put, De Rossi is the Giallorossi's key, with the 'Capitan Futuro' having excelled in Luis Enrique's system, being asked to play a key role in protecting the centre-backs like never before and starting moves from deep. Now, if he can just stay on the right side of the boss longer-term ...

CRISTIAN LEDESMA - After a short difficult spell, the Italy international has been living out the perfect season, being to Lazio what De Rossi is to Roma and Andrea Pirlo to Juventus. The amount of possession going through his feet in the Biancocelesti's run this term has been a key positive in the bid for Champions League football.

MIRALEM PJANIC - Perhaps Roma's best signing of the 2011-12 season. Brought in from Lyon, Pjanic quickly came to terms with Serie A football and has helped to drive the Giallorossi forward from midfield. His quick mind and great ball skills more than make up for his lack of pace, and his danger from set pieces has also put plenty of opposition back lines in danger.




FRANCESCO TOTTI - The years, they pass, yet Totti remains the bandiera of the Roma side. The arrival of Luis Enrique coincided with a difficult spell for the No. 10, but his return from injury brought about a boost for the Giallorossi. He has proven time and again that he has what it takes to drag his team up another level.

A year on from almost taking Lazio to the Champions League, the Brazilian has been at it again this term. Without him, they would arguably be out of contention for the top three, but his superb ability in tight spaces, his vision and his guile have all combined to propel the Biancocelesti towards the top. Miroslav Klose would likely have had half of the goals that he has without Hernanes' contribution.



MIROSLAV KLOSE - The very fact that Lazio are milling around the top end despite their various struggles off the field and their woeful defending on it is down to the impact of the German. His 15 goals in all competitions this season have largely come at vital times in games and in big surroundings. He grabbed the all-important derby winner last time around, and many will be tipping him to do the same today. He has the golascoring knack like nobody at Formello since Hernan Crespo a decade ago.