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Totti Tuesday: The true champions

The chaaaaaaampioooooooooooooooons. As of April 19 2014, it is now official: Roma will make its comeback on the biggest stage for football clubs: the Champions League.

Gabriele Maltinti

For the first time since 2011, people in the stands and on the seats of the Stadio Olimpico will hear that glorious tune once again, before facing Europe’s most respected and notorious teams. The countdown has begun…

Roma will probably not end up as Italian champions but at least they’ll be some sort of ‘champions’ by the time season 2014-2015 starts. 8 March, 2011. Shaktar-Roma, 3-0. That was the last time the Giallorossi played a CL-match. Not the finest of games. They have a lot of making-up to do with that competition as Roma has a crazy love/hate relationship with it: remember Cluj defeat or the 0-3 ban against Dinamo Kiev (ref Frisk got a coin to the head) but also the 3-2 win against Bayern, Mancini’s stepovers goal against Lyon or the 3-1 against Chelsea. Therefore, as a tribute, I’ll go over my top five of Champions League games of Associazione Sportiva Roma.

5) Real-Roma 1-2, March 2008

Champions League knock-outs, after the group stage. You don’t simply win at Real, it’s quite a feat and therefore rightfully in my top five. Plus, it’s got a Taddei header! What’s not to be loved? Roma also won the first game with 2-1, Vucinic scored in both legs. This was basically Spalletti football at its best. Roma reached the CL-quarters for the second time in a row with players like Perrotta, Panucci, Tonetto and Taddei. ‘Twas simply a good time to be a Roma fan that day. Just like now.

4) Roma-Bayern 3-2, November 2010

This win meant a big deal back then but maybe even more nowadays when you know Bayern are Europe’s powerhouse and the team to beat. 0-2 at the break, Roma scored three goals in one half to complete the turnaround, final result: 3-2. Three Italians made the scoresheet: Borriello, De Rossi and Totti. Greco and Brighi started the game in a 4-3-1-2 midfield. This was basically Ranieri football at its best. Ironically, Claudio didn’t make May that season because Montella took over in Februari 2011. Roma ended the season sixth with 63 points. That’s A LOT less than this year ey? 2010-2011 was the last CL-campaign of AS Roma up to now.

3) Roma-Arsenal 1-0, March 2009

Don’t let the scoreline fool you, this was one of Roma’s biggest ‘defeats’ in recent history. Champions League knock-outs, Roma collected twelve points in a group of Chelsea, Bordeaux and Cluj and finished first. Juan’s goal in the 9th minute erased Arsenal’s earlier 1-0 win while Roma played with a defense of Motta-Juan-Diamoutene-Riise. Juan got injured (surprise!) after half an hour so Riise had to play CB for a while.

Still, Roma fought bravely and pushed Arsenal to the limit. Extra time was needed and even penalty shoot-outs. After sixteen penalties, the verdict was extremely painful: 6-7, Arsenal progressed, Roma were out. Tonetto’s decisive miss is something I’ll always remember, in a good way as strange as it may sound. Those kind of moments really toughen up a fan. To make it all worse: the 2009 CL-final was hosted at the Olimpico. Barcelona won against a certain English side…

2) Manchester United-Roma 7-1, April 2007

I’m gonna get a lot of sh*t now but meh, who cares (Roma cares!). Like I said, love-hate relationship and the double confrontation against ManU was the best example. Roma won the first round with 2-1 and were very close to the semies. Unfortunately, Roma got completely overrun by Rooney, Ronaldo, Carrick and co. One week they’re the heroes, the other week they’re the laughing stock of Europe. That’s life.

This game was mainly the reason why there are so many Giallorrissi fans who hate the Premier League and its clubs. Roma’s European journey ended in a brutal, horrible way but hey, at least they did reach the CL-quarters and grabbed some money along the way. One season later, Roma faced ManU again in the CL of 2007-2008, even four times: twice in the group stage and twice in the quarters. They lost three and drew one (at home in the group stage). Thank God we won’t face them in the upcoming campaign. By all means, this game should be remembered as statement for all Giallorossi fans out there: support the team, no matter what the scoreline says. You win together, you lose together. What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. Believe that the team will always crawl back up.

1) Valencia-Roma 0-3, Februari 2003

Long-time readers probably saw this coming. As I once mentioned in an earlier Totti Tuesday, this game is mainly the reason I started to follow the Giallorossi. We go back a looooooong way now, season 2002-2003. A magical February night. In the second group stage (yes there were two back then), Roma were drawn in a group with Ajax, Arsenal and Valencia. Roma collected zero points after three games but surprised everyone with a dominant performance at the Mestalla. 0-3 after 45 minutes, two goals from Il Capitano.

In short: babies were made that evening. Maybe even your little brother or sister. Roma failed to repeat the trick in the last two games but they left the European scene with their heads held high and send a clear signal to the world: ‘we’re special’… And more importantly: they won over a little Belgian boy 1700 kilometers up north.

So you see, a lot of mixed CL-emotions right there. But be still my beating heart, Roma’s going to make it all up to you soon. Very soon.

Ps: Feel free to post your favorite Champions League moments, goals, matches etc. in the comments below!