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The Derby Heroes

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There was so much which went right in this derby - well, half-right. Every player deserves their own encyclopedic volume - from the aerially superlative Juan to the Roman professionals on the bench - but these are the five which, for me, defined the derby.

They're not meant to be in any particular order, but they likely are anyway.

I. Julio Sergio

Without Julio Sergio, there is no Mirko Vucinic, no Claudio Ranieri. Without him, there is no derby win. Without him, there is no title race. Without him, Roma is but a fraction of its current self. As someone said after The Save Pt. II, "And suddenly, there is life. In the stadium, in the team, and in hope….".

The encapsulation of what he's been for this team all year in a December moment, then replayed in April: savior.


II. Big Game Mirko

Once, twice, a thousand times...Mirko Vucinic has It.

It shows up in derbies; It shows up when titles can be lost; and It most definitely shows up when the two are combined.

Much like the enigmatic genius he possesses, It is unquantifiable. So too is Mirko's impact on the aura which envelopes this team.

That, my friends, is It.

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III. Marco Cassetti.

For the second straight derby, like Julio Sergio, he was a hero. Directly after the penalty, he became SuperMarco (II) for one minute, winning the ball then winning it again from three blue shirts then winning the corner which won the penalty which won the goal which won momentum which won the game. It was a simple continuation of the inspirational athletic movements performed by Julio Sergio mere seconds earlier, and it loomed no less large.

The smallest of things win the biggest of games.


IV. The Subs

Not Ranieri's coconuts, but the subs themselves: Rodrigo & Jeremy. They were both outstanding, both precisely what the side needed, and both performed on par with the stage. Each won a decisive foul, Rodrigo the penalty and Jeremy the free kick, and both gave Lazio fits, each in largely different ways. They went a great deal in transforming this derby into a tale of two halves.

And for the second straight derby the men of the bench, unpreferred before the game, rose above and beyond their initial status. True and proper difference makers.

V. Simone


The Run.
(Hit play.)

He ran from box to box in order to put in a last-ditch tackle on Rocchi from mere yards in front of the Roman net, like a proper captain.

Again, it's 'small' plays like this that win titles. Equally, it's players like these that win titles.

***

They all deserve their own spot in some way, but these are the five players or moments who defined what may become a defining win.