If there were such a thing as Roma Fan Orientation, some sort of three-day retreat in which novices are schooled in the ways of the Giallorossi, the first day would likely include your standard meet and greets, maybe a chance to share your Roma story, and, if you were lucky enough, maybe you'd walk away with a free lanyard after the complimentary lunch. But sooner or later, you have to get down to brass tacks: What is it that makes this club so special, what does it mean to be a Roma fan, and which clubs should we despise the most?
The first two questions are beyond the scope of this piece, but when it comes to which clubs Roma fans should loathe the most, the list has to begin with Lazio; Roma's city rivals and Stadio Olimpico co-tenants. The two capital clubs have squared off over 150 times since 1929, with the Giallorossi holding a slight advantage over their neighbors: 60-60-45 (W-D-L) with a +38 goal differential.
With a shared history that dates back nearly a century, this rivalry has seen it all: spectacular goals, thrilling comebacks, and more red cards than our feeble minds can imagine. The Derby della Capitale isn't always a ringing endorsement for the sport, but thanks to their shared animosity and the social/political subtext that sometimes exists underneath the surface, the Rome Derby is among the most fierce in the game—or any sport for that matter.
And now that Lazio's women's team has been promoted to Serie A Femminile, we get to experience this animus twice as often! Although considering how poorly they've played through the first half of the season, Lazio may be heading right back to Serie B, so we'll have to enjoy this rivalry while we can.
With that in mind, let's take a quick look at a few of the key storylines heading into Sunday's round 11 fixture.
Keep An Eye On
The Emotions of the Moment
Just days after Lorenzo Pellegrini penned a touching piece on what Roma means to him, it's fitting that the Giallorosse find themselves defending the honor of the city as they face Lazio for the first time ever. And just like the men's team, the women of Rome aren't lacking in local kids. From club captain Elisa Bartoli to veteran midfield Claudia Ciccotti and up and comers like Giada Greggi and Alice Corelli, the squad certainly isn't lacking in local flavor.
Rome born— AS Roma English (@ASRomaEN) December 11, 2021
Midfielder Claudia Ciccotti on the emotions of the Derby della Capitale, ahead of the first-ever one for @ASRomaWomen on Sunday! #ASRoma #ASRomaWomen
It’s a far cry from their inaugural season in 2018 when nearly a third of the squad hailed from Rome—and Bartoli still hasn't cleared virus protocols, so she'll be absent for this match—but you can rest assured that the importance of the derby won't be lost on the non-Romans in the squad, not when you have proud Romans like Ciccotti suiting up for such a monumental occasion. And especially not when the Tre Fontane will see its largest crowd ever; a rumored 1,100 fans are set to attend Sunday's derby.
Thanks to their last-second victory over Sampdoria, Roma remains locked in a four-team race for second place, so there are plenty of practical reasons to motivate the Giallorosse tomorrow, but as we all know, a derby win resonates far beyond trifling matters like the league table.
Well, maybe not...
Can Roma Previal Where Sassuolo Slipped Up?
Thanks to their 2-1 victory over Sampdoria last weekend, Roma managed to keep their winning ways intact; a streak that now stands at five-straight in all competitions. It took a minor miracle to push past Samp last weekend—Manuela Giugliano's match-winning goal required a deflection to skirt past the keeper—but those three points kept Roma within shouting distance of second place Sassuolo, shrinking the gap to a mere two points (as of last weekend).
But the good news didn't end there. Thanks to a 2-2 draw with Inter Milan on Saturday, Sassuolo's grasp on second place has weakened substantially and could come completely loose if Roma can handle their business against Lazio. A win on Sunday would put Roma on 25 points, potentially vaulting the Giallorosse into second place, provided Milan loses to Juventus; Roma has the head-to-head tiebreaker over Sassuolo thanks to their 2-0 win earlier this season.
Securing second place halfway through the year means nothing, of course, but Roma has never been that high on the table this late in the season. With the club rounding into form over the past few weeks and finding new sources of depth thanks to a spate of injuries and illness, Roma could be poised to qualify for their first-ever Champions League berth.
Nuts & Bolts
As high as Roma are at the moment, Lazio may be equally low. Entering Sunday's fixture, Lazio has earned only three points while sporting a -25 goal differential. To their credit, Lazio did win last weekend, edging out Verona 1-0. While there isn't much to say about Lazio, they do feature former Roma Primavera stand-out Camila Labate.
With a few faces returning from injury and illness, Alessandro Spugna certainly has more options on hand. While Bartoli remains out for this match and Andressa is away on personal leave in Brazil, the rest of Spugna's regulars are fit and ready to go. A return to their normally 4-2-3-1 seems likely, with Valeria Pirone playing up top and supported immediately by Annamaria Serturini and Benedetta Glionna, while the midfield should be comprised of Giugliano, Ciccotti and Vanessa Bernauer. The defense should feature Lucia Di Guglielmo, Elena Linari, Allyson Swaby and Angelica Soffia standing in for Bartoli, while Camelia Ceasar is set to start between the sticks.