Il Derby Della Capitale

The twice yearly clash between Roma and Lazio is one of world football's most passionate derbies.  On Sunday, the two sides meet with Lazio in fine form.  Rocco Camisola looks forward to an exciting clash.

On Sunday afternoon, the Serie A fixture schedule treats us to the first derby of the season in Italy.  Roma play Lazio at the Stadio Olimpico in Rome.

During the last decade, the Derby della capitale has seen an increasing amount of violence off the field.  In 2004, rumours that a young boy had been killed before the match led to riots and the game being abandoned.  170 people were injured in the violence and Roma were fined when it was later revealed that the rumours were false.  A year later, in 2005, Roma fans threw a missile at match referee Gianluca Paparesta.  Despite the missile drawing blood, Parapesta was determined to carry on with the game. Even as recently as last season there have been issues with crowd trouble in the derby, with the match stopped after fifteen minutes play due to flares and firecrackers being thrown onto the pitch. Once the game resumed the crowd was relatively well behaved though the lingering feeling that trouble could erupt at any moment remained in the air.  As it always does.  Though it has been renowned for its atmosphere the derby has produced some magical moments on the field as well, Aleksander Kolarov's mazy run and strike 2 seasons ago is just one of the great pieces of play we have seen in the derby over the years.

Contrary to the situation last season when they were struggling to get any points on the board, Lazio go into the game as the form side this time round. Lazio sit on top of Serie A by a clear 4 points and are unbeaten since their opening day defeat away to Sampdoria. Roma on the other hand have had a terrible start to the season and have only just started to turn things around. Luckily for Roma the table remains incredibly tight and they shouldn't have too much difficulty climbing back up towards the summit.  They were, after all, able to beat Lazio home and away last season, although fans of Le Aquile were able to get their own back when they cheered Inter to victory against their own team in a game that helped decide where the title went.

Lazio's new signing Hernanes is the player that all Serie A fans have had their eye on this season, and will be the main focus of attention. The Brazilian moved from Sao Paolo in the summer following protracted negotiations between the two clubs. He has been instrumental in taking Lazio to the top of Serie A by providing a creative pivot high up the pitch behind the striker, rather than the deeper position in front of the back four from which he dictated play for Sao Paolo.  Another addition to the staff at the Stadio Olimpico has come from Portugal.  Olimpia is an eagle who has been serving as a mascot for Lazio.

Unveiled against Milan, the eagle flies three laps of the stadium before returning to its handler before every home game. Pundits were rolling out the metaphors when Olimpia refused to come down from the roof of the stadium before the home game with Cagliari, many were already asking if Lazio would ever come down from the heights they had achieved. Olimpia will be at the stadium on Sunday but sadly will not be flying due to concerns that the vociferous atmosphere together with the possibility of flares and other missiles will put the mascot at risk.

Roma have won their last 2 games against Lecce and Basel. Their last Serie A victory against Lecce came at the cost of their talismanic captain Francesco Totti, who was sent off for an off the ball incident with Olivera and will now miss the game. He was still able to try to impose his views on the game when interviewed after the victory in Basel on Wednesday evening and said of the derby, "I'll watch it at home because it'll be too painful to see it in the stadium, I'll support Roma all the same though". When asked who would emerge victorious, he quipped back “They [Lazio] will, Floccari will score a penalty". Perhaps a little reverse psychology at play there?

Roma may also be without David Pizzaro and Nicolas Burdisso, imperious in the victory against Lecce, is facing a race against time to get fit for Sunday's game. If he is absent we will see Philipe Mexes step into his place.

The atmosphere may not be as charged and hostile this season with the introduction of the new tessera (a form of ID required for away fans to buy tickets and enter stadiums) average attendances are down generally in protest. A number of Roma fans have also complained recently, that they won't be able to pay for seats anywhere but in the Curva if they are not pensioners, women or children; even if they have the means to do so. Hopefully such circumstances will not detract from the spectacle where Roma can attempt to continue their rise but Lazio must take a lead from their mascot, Olimpia, and keep their feet firmly on the ground.

To get fully into the spirit of things we think you should be wearing something like this or this.

If you would like to read more from Rocco, please visit The Football Express