Date: 5th April 2017 at 1:00am
Written by:

Every major footballing city in the world has a great local rivalry and some of those rivalries run deeper than others, the deepest are rarely anything to do with beautiful game.

In Scotland, the Old Firm derby, contested between former European heavyweights Rangers and Celtic, who play each other around half a dozen times a season, and  rarely is there a more fierce hatred in all of football then when these two sides lock horns.

Religion, in football as in life, has the power to unite and divide communities in equal measure.  One of the key components in whether you support Rangers or Celtic is often down to what religion you are, Rangers fans being Protestant and Celtic fans Catholic, and the confrontation that exists between them generally comes under the banner of what’s called Sectarianism.

I know little or nothing about Sectarianism, or any other ism’s for that matter, and all of its machinations other than the effect it has had on the fixture of the country’s two biggest sides and the effect on Scottish football in general.  An effect that has not often been classed as positive one.

Other rivalries are just as competitive on the pitch but far less intimidating such as Liverpool and Everton.  Often you will see members of the same family in opposing shirts and fans happily mixing together with mainly good natured banter.  Over recent years however this has been less evident and on occasions the deep rivalry has been as fierce as it ever was, but it’s nothing compared what’s happened north of the border.

In Liverpool you are Red or you are Blue, with the odd White for Tranmere thrown in to mix it up a bit.  Essentially the rivalry boils down to football and football only.

So what about the Eternal City?  Is Roma verses Lazio 90 minutes of hatred and vitriol or is it an hour and a half of cheery but merciless banter.  The truth, as with all things, lies somewhere in between, although it veers far more towards Glasgow than to Merseyside.

The Derby della Capitale (Derby of the Capital) is considered to be the biggest derby in Italy and one everyone bets on using www.openodds.com. Milan against Inter does not compare and neither does the Turin derby.

Unlike Scotland there is no religious under current behind the Roma-Lazio fixtures.  As in Milan both teams share the same ground, the Stadio Olimpico.

The formation of Roma came about in 1927 when they were created, due in part to Fascist Dictator Benito Mussolini’s desire to end the dominance of the teams from the north. Three teams, Roman, Alba-Audace and Fortitudo were bonded together to form AS Roma.

One existing team in Rome though refused to unite and they were SS Lazio and so the rivalry began.

In a nutshell the Lazio fans are considered by their Roma counterparts as being outsiders i.e. not from the city of Rome.  Lazio fans retort by informing the Roma tifosi that they were here first.  The year 1900 to be precise.  Twenty seven years before  Roma became a club.

Despite the dominance, which continues to this day, of the northern based sides like Juventus, AC Milan, Inter etc, the clubs continue to hate each other with far more enthusiasm than anyone else, even the most successful clubs.  Perhaps this attitude has held them back at times in their respective histories, so keen are they to outdo each other rather than  focusing on the bigger prize.

On occasions the intimidation and insults overstep the mark and there have been several occurrences of violence between the two sets of supporters.

In 1979 a Lazio supporter was hit in the eye with a flare thrown by a Roma fan and became the first fatality due to violence in the history of Italian football.

Roma ultras also forced the suspension of a game in 2004 when false rumours of a child being killed by police before the match caused chaos.

As recently as 2009 the referee was forced to abandon play for over seven minutes because of fireworks being thrown onto the pitch. In Argentina they would probably have played on!

Other suspensions and high profile incidents have marred this fixture but also put it on the map as one of the world’s biggest rivalries.

Being seen as the top dog in Rome is just as important to Lazio and Roma as it is being the top dog in Italy, in fact, scrap that… it’s more so.

The ultras on both sides have generally set the tone down the years for what this fixture has become and what it means to the supporters.  Lazio’s ultras have often shown their darker side by using swastikas and fascist symbols on their banners and they have frequently displayed racist behaviour during derbies.

During the 1998-99 season Laziali produced a 50 metre banner around the Curva Nord, the Lazio Ultra’s end, that read “Auschwitz is your town, the ovens are your houses”.

Roma players of a black or another ethnic origin have also come under attack from Lazio supporters with banners and racist chanting. It must be said however that Roma do not have a clear conscience themselves when it comes to matters of racist abuse or banners and have more than once been the protagonists in such unsavory actions.

All in all it can get pretty unpleasant at times and it’s certainly not a game for those of a nervous disposition. However, despite the high profile incidents and generally negative publicity, it is one of the most thrilling and absorbing football games you are ever likely to witness.

Many times, often due to the fractious nature of the fixture, the games have been dull but your football experience will be much the poorer for not seeing this event live should you get the opportunity.

Derby della Capitale statistics*

Won

Draw

Won

Matches

Goals

AS Roma

SS Lazio

AS Roma

SS Lazio

Serie A

52

57

36

145

183

138

Coppa Italia

9

3

7

19

21

19

Unofficial matches

6

3

7

16

22

22

Total

67

63

50

180

226

179

Notable Games

The first ever Derby della Capitale was played on 8 December 1929, and ended 1–0 for Roma with a goal by Rodolfo Volk.

Lazio won their derby match 2-1 on 23 October 1932.

On 29 November 1953 was the date of the first derby in the Stadio Olimpico, and finished with a 1–1 draw with goals by Carlo Galli (Roma) and Paquale Vivolo (Lazio).

The best result in a derby for Roma was a 5–0 victory during the 1933–34 season. Lazio’s best win was the 3–0 victory in the 2006-07 season.

Lazio holds the record of the most consecutive victories in a single season, winning four derbies during the season 1997–98: two in the league (3–1 and 2–0) and two in the quarter-finals of the Coppa Italia (4–1 and 2–1).

Notable Players & Performances

Francesco Totti has played the most number of derbies: 28 appearances, so far. The most present for Lazio were Aldo Pulcinelli and Giuseppe Wilson, both with 19 appearances.

Dino Da Costa and Marco Delvecchio have scored the most number of goals in the derbies: 9.

Vincenzo Montella holds the record for the most goals scored in a single derby. On 11 March 2002 he scored 4 goals in the 5–1 Roma’s victory.

Arne Selmosson is the only player who scored in the derby both for Lazio and Roma.

*statistics correct as of April 1, 2017