As we continue to grapple with the effects of the coronavirus pandemic, many of us have lost our favorite pastime. Sports provide many of us with an escape from reality; a distraction from the stresses of our day-to-day lives. Something that, at times, can bring us unbridled joy, while at others disappointment. However a match may transpire on a particular day, good or bad, it at least gives us that escape for a few hours.
Of course, there are bigger things than sports. People’s lives and health surely outweigh the pleasure associated with large gatherings like sporting events and concerts—the current risk in attending those events outweighs the fleeting joys they provide. There is no doubt about that; therefore, the sacrifice of this pastime is necessary.
Sports will return, it may take a few weeks or even a few months, but life will eventually return to normalcy. In the meantime, while the world fights to overcome this pandemic, we can look to our memory banks to give us just the slightest reprieve from the endless news cycle revolving around the virus. In order to do that, and to fill our addiction for all things Roma, we will take a look back at some great Roma moments from the past.
What better way to begin than with a joyous derby victory that was all about our namesake.
March 13, 2011: Roma 2-0 Lazio
After nearly dethroning holders Inter for the Scudetto the previous season, big things were expected from Roma in 2010-11. Manager Claudio Ranieri returned for his second season in charge of his hometown club, looking to build on the near historic 2009-10 campaign. The team was kept intact for the most part. The only major change saw Adriano replace Luca Toni— after the expiration of his loan from Bayern Munich.
Unfortunately, things didn’t going according to plan for the Giallorossi. Roma opened the season with a 3-1 defeat in the Supercoppa to Inter. That was followed by one win, two draws and three losses to open the league campaign, plus a Champions League opening loss against Bayern in Munich. Optimism quickly turned to panic.
Roma followed off that dreadful start with a seven-match unbeaten streak that saw the Giallorossi rise to fifth on the table. However, the magic of the previous season was gone. Roma continued to produce inconsistent results that eventually cost Ranieri his job. A three match losing streak in the league, coupled with a first leg defeated to Shakthar Donetsk in the Champions League Round of 16, was the end for the Roman tactician.
He was replaced by former Giallorossi striker Vincenzo Montella on February 20th. Two wins and a draw under Montella’s guidance gave Roma a boost in the league. But, just days before the derby, the Lupi were mauled in Ukraine 3-0. Having just been eliminated from the Champions League, nobody knew how the team would respond. Roma sat sixth in the table and trailed Lazio by five points for the last Champions League spot, making this derby all the more vital.
Roma and Lazio came out in identical 4-2-3-1 formations as the Giallorossi looked to make it five straight wins against the Biancoceleste.
Playing on a rain soaked pitch, this derby didn’t provide the prettiest football. In fact, there was a grand total of 10 shots between the two teams and only four of those were on target, according to the official league stats. It was a tense, even affair with both teams hovering around 50% possession. And in typical derby fashion, there were plenty of fouls— 16 each way. It was a match that had all the makings of a dour 0-0 draw. One that would do Roma no good in his fight to climb into the top four.
It would take something magical on that day to beat both the elements and Lazio. Fortunately, Roma had the greatest magician that the Italian capital has ever seen on the pitch: Francesco Totti.
In the 70th minute, Totti stepped up to a free kick a few yards outside of Fernando Muslera’s box. David Pizzaro rolled the ball to Totti, who hammered it home through the Lazio wall. The game remained tense, before two red cards were shown. Lazio saw Stefan Radu sent off in the 88th minute and then Cristian Ledesma followed in the 92nd minute. The latter resulted in a Roma penalty. There was little doubt who would step to the spot, as Totti drilled it into the top of the net in the 93rd minute.
Roma were victorious for the third time that season against their city rivals, after winning 2-0 previously in the league and eliminating the Biancoceleste from the Coppa Italia 2-1. It also marked the second time in team history with five-straight derby wins. The victory also brought Roma within four points of fourth place Udinese.
In the end, Roma would finish a disappointing sixth, just three points off a Champions League place. Coupled with the Champions League elimination and defeat to Inter in the Supercoppa and Coppa Italia semifinals, the season was a failure for all intents and purposes for Roma. However, this famous Totti derby double gave us something to smile about in an otherwise grim season.