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Totti Today #41: The Million Dollar Derby

It doesn’t get any bigger than this. In a few days, Lazio and Roma face off to determine who grabs that precious second place and automic Champions League qualification. These are the type of games the tifosi live and die for. Dear AS Roma, you better not fail us…

Paolo Bruno/Getty Images

This is it guys, the big one. The Derby della Capitale. Every season there are at least a dozen games the fans describe as ‘game of the season’. But this time there’s no denying: Lazio-Roma on Sunday Monday is a big, bad affair between two local rivals and it’s gonna get ugly. Like really ugly. Nasty even. Our beloved club usually fails to rise to the occasion but they’ve been pretty mediocre for so long now, Monday is the right time to make amends and still give this season a beautiful, tasteful chery on top of that burned and bitter cake.

May 25, 2015. Almost two years after that famous derby, the Coppa Italia final. A 0-1 loss, the last game of Aurelio Andreazzoli in charge. A date that is still firmly on everyone’s mind. A match that will never be forgotten, alongside other monumental derbies like the 5-1 win in 2002 and Montella’s 4 goals. Or the 2-0 win in February 2006 during Spalletti’s winning streak (a club record of 11 consecutive wins in Serie A). Of course it hasn’t always been sunshine, lollypops and rainbows in Rome. There are also a lot of black pages in the book of Roman derbies…

1979: A lazio fan died before the kick-off due to a flare in the eye. 2004: Big riots and the rumor that a child was killed by a police jeep. The rumor was untrue but the tension in the stadium was unbearable. There were also Paolo Di Canio’s fascist gestures, cases of racial abuse, awful refereeing decisions,… You name it, they got it.

The Coppa Italia final in 2013 was the last time Lazio won a derby. Roma won one in September 2013 (Balzaretti’s goal and tears spring to my mind) and the last two derbies ended in a stalemate (0-0 and 2-2). In January this year Roma fought back from a 0-2 deficit and Totti even took a selfie with the fans during a goal celebration. Another memorable night in Rome. You see, the derby always delivers. Be it suspense, horrendous fouls, controversy, slapstick, clusterfucks,… It ALWAYS delivers so you damn better be in front of your television or laptop screen on Monday. Trust me, it’ll be worth it. Just make sure you have something with you that you can punch real hard without hurting. Like a teddy bear or a cardboard of Justin Bieber. You know, just in case.

Rome’s next derby once again promises to be a heated affair. Of course there’s the fact that both teams are second and third, divived by one point. In 2013 there was a Coppa at stake. Very important yes and the first time a Coppa final was a game between two Roman teams. But this one, oh boy, this derby might be worth millions more. By now you all have read or heard about the amounts that are being thrown around in the CL. Already securing CL in May means we have more room for transfers and we can lure bigger players who 100% want to play in Europe’s biggest competition next season. No need to play qualifications which means the squad has more rest, more preparation time and no extra worries (for us, the fans, as well). Vi ricordate Slovan Bratislava?

Then there was the controversy of the date. FIGC opted for this Sunday but Lotito wanted to postpone it until Monday because Lazio plays the Coppa final tonight against Juve. So they changed the calendar although it’s Lazio’s own damn ‘fault’ it plays a midweek match. You win some, you lose some. You want to win a big prize? Then you have to bear the consequences, plain and simple. Lazio already knew it would have an extra game since April 8 (the 0-1 win in Napoli in the semies), live with it. Psssh, drama queens!

I’ll be honest with you guys: I had a lot of time to tinker. I may find this the most important derby in years, even ages. It is set to be a true clash: Whoever wins gains momentum and pleases the supporters, whoever loses will have a lot of patching and making up to do. And the loser even risks third place. A draw would only favor Roma, although playing for a draw is a huge gamble and not a very smart move… Though it helps Napoli-Lazio is scheduled on the very last matchday.

Yet Garcia and Roma don’t have to make things unnecessary difficult: A win seals second, case closed. A draw gives us another lifeline against a tricky side like Palermo. A loss? Avert your eyes from the screen as chaos will come and tear down our Church. This one’s gonna go down to the wire, so we can only hope Roma ends victorious in the end. A draw and a win against Palermo would be great as well, but beating Lazio and thus securing second spot against our lifelong rivals would taste so much sweeter. AS Roma owes the fans, think of it as some sort of customer relations.

I’m especially looking at the Romans on the team to lead this group into battle. Everyone points at Daniele and Francesco since they’re the usual suspects, but my money’s on Alessandro this time.

C’mon Alé, make la nonna proud!