February 2nd is perhaps the most absurd day on the social calendar in the United States. Sure, Black Friday mall stampedes and Fourth of July celebration where fingers go missing run a close second and third, but what can be stranger than Groundhog's Day? A day in which the entire country pauses for a moment to let a rodent predict the weather.
Groundhog Day, a centuries-old tradition originally known as Candlemas, began in Germany and was brought to the New World by the Pennsylvania Dutch. And on every February 2nd in Punxsutawney, Pennslyvania, the world's most famous Groundhog, Punxsutawney Phil, emerges from his burrow to predict the future. If Phil sees his shadow and retreats back to his den, that means we're in for six more weeks of winter—which was the case earlier this morning. Thanks, Phil.
In popular culture, Groundhog Day was nothing more than a lark until the 1993 Bill Murray film Groundhog Day reenvisioned the holiday as a sort of morality play in which a cynical meteorologist played by Murray finds himself stuck in a time-loop on Groundhog Day. By some internet estimates, Murray's character, Phil Connors, was forced to relive Groundhog Day every day for approximately 10 years before realizing the errors of his selfish ways.
While there have been plenty of films and TV series in which the main character is trapped in similar circumstances, Groundhog Day is the gold standard for the time loop genre. And every year, you're sure to find different spins on this genre, like what song could you listen to every morning for the rest of your life, or what TV episode could you watch on an infinite loop with no escape?
Which got me to thinking, if you were forced to watch one Roma match repeatedly for 10 years, which one would you choose?
So, in the spirit of Groundhog Day, here are your choices:
The 2001 Scudetto Clincher
We might as well start with the most obvious example: Roma's Scudetto-clinching 3-1 victory over Parma on June 17, 2001. Roma entered that match with a slim two-point lead over second-place Juventus, who had a far easier fixture against eventual seventh-place Atalanta. Thanks to goals from Francesco Totti, Gabriel Batistuta, and Vincenzo Montella, Roma were able to secure only the third league title in club history.
Roma Scudettos are few and far between, but it's hard to imagine a better ending and celebration than this one.
The Manolas Miracle
Facing a 4-1 aggregate deficit against Barcelona in the Quarterfinals of the 2018 Champions League, Roma welcomed Lionel Messi and Barca to the Olimpico on April 10, 2018. With a three-goal deficit to erase, Roma needed a miracle to advance to the Semifinals—and that's precisely what they received.
After a 6th-minute goal from Edin Dzeko and a 58th-minute penalty from Daniele De Rossi, little by little the impossible started to seem inevitable and thanks to an 82nd-minute header from Kostas Manolas, Roma did the unthinkable: they toppled might Messi and Barcelona in the most dramatic way possible.
Roma's march towards history was upended by Liverpool in the semifinals, but you'd be hard-pressed to find a more dramatic moment than this.
The Totti Derby Double/Selfie Celebration
When Roma and Lazio meet, you throw out the standings; nothing else matters (or even exists) for 90 minutes when the two capital clubs throw down in the Derby della Capitale. And on this January 2015 evening, Lazio ran out to a 2-0 lead before the half-hour mark thanks to goals from Stefano Mauro and Felipe Anderson.
Roma's goose was cooked until Francesco Totti decided to take matters into his own hands. With two goals in a 16-minute span—an easy low and away tap-in set up by Kevin Strootman and then a spectacular leaping volley in the 64th minute—Totti rescued Roma, further cementing his status as a God to Roma fans all over the world, while his selfie celebration went viral in a matter of minutes.
The Tears of Balzaretti
While the Derby della Capitale doesn't care about standings, form, or schedules, coming in only the fourth week of the 2013-2014 season, this match may have been lacking a bit of consequence on the surface, but consider the context. Just four months prior, Lazio defeated Roma in the Coppa Italia finale, leaving Francesco Totti in tears, so this derby offered Roma a shot at some delayed revenge.
And with this match knotted at nil-nil in the 63rd minute, a man who had been with Roma for little more than a year scored perhaps the most memorable derby goal in history. With Totti slowly cutting in from the right, Roma's captain emeritus played a looping ball across the face of the goal, one that seemed like it was meant for Gervinho—who whiffed on his headed attempt—or even Mehdi Benatia, but Balzaretti was in the right spot at the exact right moment, lashing his left foot onto the ball and sending the Olimpico into hysterics.
He may not have had the most prolific Roma career, but at that moment Balzaretti's goal, the crowd's reaction, and Balzaretti's emotional response stand as the perfect encapsulation of what makes AS Roma so special to so many people.
39-Year-Old Totti Topples Torino With Two Goals In Three Minutes
It's hard to escape one's own recency bias, but part of what made Totti's career so legendary is the sheer breadth of it; Totti crammed several lifetime's worth of highlights into a two-decade career. While the most ardent fans among us would have loved to see Totti remain a no question, 90-minute player until his last match, as Totti crept closer to 40, his role necessarily diminished but, even in a bit role, he remained one of the most dangerous players in the league.
And never was that more evident than in Roma's Round 34 match against Torino from April 2016. With Torino clinging to a 2-1 lead deep into the match, Luciano Spalletti—who received plenty of criticism for his handling of the then 39-year-old Totti—gave Totti what he probably thought was a four-minute favor, but Totti used those 240 seconds to add to his considerable legend.
First, in the 86th minute—having been on the pitch for a matter of seconds—Totti pulled a rabbit out of his hat, barely getting his left leg onto a flicked header from Kostas Manolas at the far post, managing (somehow) to beat at the near post.
But he wasn't done just yet. In the dying embers of the match, following a handball penalty off a Diego Perotti cross, Totti buried an 89th-minute penalty, winning the match and reducing fans to tears in the process.
Totti's match-saving performance gave Spalletti critics added fuel for their arguments, but rather than begrudgingly accepting a late-match four-minute cameo, Totti seized the opportunity, pulling Roma's feet from the fire for the umpteenth time and forever sealing his legacy as one of the greatest to ever play the game.
Montella Scores Four in Derby Domination
Continuing the derby theme, this 5-1 beatdown of Lazio from March of 2002 wouldn’t be a bad match to watch ad infinitum, provided you can find one with more than five pixels. In this Round 26 fixture, Roma were precariously perched atop the table, tied with Inter on 53 points, while Lazio were mired in seventh place.
Roma missed out on back to back titles by one fucking point, but there was no disappointment on this day as Vincenzo Montella single-handedly won the derby, scoring a first-half penalty before adding a fourth goal in the 64th minute. Totti would add a goal for good measure in the 72nd minute to seal an overwhelming victory for Roma.
With 90 years of history to look back on, it was tough to pull out just a half dozen examples, but there are certainly worse matches to watch on an infinite loop, right?
Those are just six nominees, what other matches would you select for your Roma Groundhog Day?