The build up to this Derby della Capitale wasn't quite the same as usual due to a protest from the Ultras regarding security measures. Gazzetta dello Sport dubbed it "The Silent Derby" as both Curva's would practically be empty. Of course, this would happen probably the only time in my life that I was in Rome for a derby. Yet anyway after two days of exploring Rome, which I know isn't enough, I headed to the Stadio Olimpico on Sunday.
Roma and Lazio were both coming off mid-week wins in European competition. Roma were looking to keep up pace at the top of the table, only one point behind Fiorentina and Inter. At the other end of the spectrum, Lazio have struggled to balance Serie A and the Europa League. After a great season last year, Stefano Pioli's side haven't looked as good and their lack of depth seems evident.
I walked about 20-25 minutes to the stadium from my hotel and arrived about 2 hours before kickoff. Since Roma was the home side there was no Lazio gear to be bought near the stadium. I was hoping to find a scarf with both teams to commemorate the derby but I don't think they put Roma and Lazio together on anything in Rome. Fans were already waiting at the gates to get in before they opened 2 hours prior to kickoff. Because of the protest, it was relatively calm around the stadium before the match. I went through the gates when they opened and got some food to eat. Then I went to my seat in the Tribuna Tevere, where I had a nice view of the field near the midfield line. The stadium started filling up but still it just didn’t feel right without the ultras. With De Rossi & Totti not available and Florenzi on the bench, Roma did not have one Italian in their starting lineup, which is the first time Roma have ever started 11 foreigners in this derby. Despite the Curva's being empty you could sense this game meant the world to the Romanisti and they wanted nothing more than a victory. Before kickoff, all the Romanisti joined in singing ‘Roma Roma Roma’, which was wonderful.
Roma controlled play from the start and found an early controversial goal. Edin Dzeko was tripped near the edge of the box and the referee pointed to the spot right away. After the match I saw the replay, which clearly showed the foul was outside the box. Nevertheless, Dzeko slotted the penalty down the middle of the net to give the home side the early lead. Although Rome enjoyed the better of the play, Lazio almost found an equalizer. Felipe Anderson unleashed a rocket from about 25 yards out, which hit the underside of the crossbar but did not cross the line. Roma were also denied by the woodwork five minutes before halftime as Radja Nainngolan’s low strike hit the post.
Like any derby there were some strong tackles and late fouls. On a late challenge, Senad Lulic stepped right on Mohamed Salah’s ankle and the Egyptian winger will be out injured for 4-6 weeks. Just as Lazio were starting to play their best on the day, Roma doubled their lead. Nainngolan played a perfect ball over the top to split the Lazio defense, which found the feet of Gervinho and the Ivorian finished at the near post. All the Romanisti celebrated with pure joy, including De Rossi in the stands. Kieta and Klose both had good chances to find a consolation goal for Lazio but Roma would hang on to keep their first clean sheet since September 12th.
Roma were the better of the sides and did deserve the 3 points. The win kept Roma unbeaten at home this season and kept them just 1 point behind the top of the table. Lazio, meanwhile, lost for the third straight time in Serie A and dropped to 9th place heading into the international break. It was a true shame that there wasn’t a true Derby della Capitale atmosphere but the Roma fans that were there still made the game enjoyable for me.
Watch my videos from the game here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fegvxo_xvm0
Post match comments
Rudi Garcia: “I just want to thank those who came to the stadium and cheered us on. And I want to thank the Curva Sud for coming to support us at the hotel. I hope the situation can be resolved.”
Alessandro Florenzi: "We'd like to dedicate today's match to the fans, even those who weren't there. In terms of atmosphere, the derby wasn't the same and I'm talking about both sets of fans because they are both great supporters. We hope this situation will be resolved soon. This win is for our supporters in the stadium, who wanted to be there with us, and for those who came to the hotel this morning. It's also for all Romanisti, like Daniele De Rossi and Francesco Totti who weren't out there on the pitch but were with us in spirit."