Lazio v Roma: How to make a lasting mark in the Eternal City

Date: 4th December 2016 at 12:04am
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One of Italian football’s great rivalries plays out its latest edition this Sunday, as Roma and Lazio meet in the Derby della Capitale.

Lazio v Roma - Coppa Italia 5

Sunday’s match between Lazio and Roma will be one of the most important in recent times. Both sides have started the season strongly and though the Giallorossi lead their city rivals in the table, that would change if they suffer defeat.

For Francesco Totti and Daniele de Rossi it is just another game – they might be turning out in a brand new limited edition kit, but the two veterans will be expected to take it in their stride, and despite Lazio’s home advantage, Roma will be expected to win.

One of the features of derby games over the years is the figures that become associated with them. Sometimes, that is through longevity, and others it is simply for one memorable moment. To tame a rival is enough to raise a mediocre player to legendary status, and the Derby della Capitale has no shortage of either.

The older Roma man has played in 36 Serie A derbies before, winning 12, losing 12 and drawing the same number. His 11 goals in the fixture may be a record, but his 13 bookings may go unchallenged for some time too.

His first meeting with the Biancocelesti came in March 1994, with the young Roman entering the field in place of Giovanni Piacentini. It is long enough ago that the opposing side featured Paul Gascoigne, though the Englishman had been replaced before Totti entered.

By that point, Roma were 1-0 down. Beppe Signori slamming home a spectacular early volley though his master stroke was barely visible through a thick haze of flares and smoke that covered the pitch. Even a quarter of an hour into the game, the atmosphere remained charged.

Into that cauldron stepped a young Totti, and it is no stretch to see why the games against Lazio since have been so pivotal. It was another five years before he was to win a derby, that famous meeting in 1999.


De Rossi, who remains as effusive about Rome as anyone, had to wait three years before his first derby. He was fortunate enough to take his bow in a 2-0 triumph. He, too, was a substitute, coming on for Antonio Cassano with a few minutes on the clock. That match, too, saw a stunning goal.

On that November lunchtime, Giallorossi midfielder Mancini (whose namesake Roberto was coaching Lazio that day) flicked home a free kick with his heel in a show of complete audacity. It became one of the great derby goals, and remains so – a reason Mancini the younger retains a level of favour in Rome.

De Rossi, who came on later, has a record against Lazio that is better than his long time team mate; his 10 victories overpowering seven defeats, though he trails Totti’s yellow card count by just one.

Roma’s recent dominance of the fixture is more easily highlighted by Lazio’s current appearance leader. Stefan Radu has faced Roma in 11 Serie A meetings to date, winning just twice, to with six defeats, including a run of four to start his Aquile career.

De Rossi and Totti were in the opposing eleven in Radu’s first derby, with the latter claiming an assist for Julio Baptista’s winner. A quickly taken corner left Totti in space, with the resultant cross deftly headed home by the Brazilian. As he may well do on Sunday, Luciano Spalletti celebrated well.

Radu was to feature in the game that saw the biggest cult figure of recent Roman derby history. Just like Sunday, when the Stadio Olimpico will be split between the two sets of fans, so it was for the 2013 Coppa Italia final. That day, Senad Lulic wrote his name into the record books with one of the most spectacular moments in recent memory.

Antonio Candreva fed a cross from the left flank which found Lulic near the far post. Just about keeping his balance, the Bosnian bundled the ball home to send the ‘away’ fans into raptures. Lulic was, and is, an unlikely hero but that is nothing but illustrative of the importance in which the meeting is regarded on both sides.

Sunday’s game is guaranteed to be memorable for one reason or another, be it a legend being written anew or another page being added to an existing epic. The Eternal City has always been a home for great drama, and this year, it looks set to see it on the football field, too.


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