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 quite 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. 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
Blog Written by Sandro (@TransfersCalcio):
As I returned to Italy, I made my way to Bergamo to meet up with my father's cousin, Ciro. His friend is the doctor for the Inter youth team and got us tickets to the match. I stayed at Ciro’s house on Friday night and on Saturday we went to Milan to meet up with our uncle who lives in the city. We spent a few hours walking around in the center of the city. We stopped at Panzerotti Luini, near the Duomo, for some panini and dolci and I would definitely recommend going there. So around 7:00pm we took the Metro to San Siro. The newest line is the #5 and it takes you right to the stadium.
We arrived at the stadium around 7:30 and the atmosphere was already in full swing. There are many stands selling food, jerseys and scarves around the stadium. The riot police were there with their shields and batons protecting the Roma fans. Fans were already singing and chanting as we headed into the stadium. Walking into the stadium and seeing how big the Giuseppe Meazza is, was amazing. There was a copy of La Gazzetta dello Sport on each seat, which I thought was a nice gesture. Our seats were in section K02 on the first level in a corner under the Inter ultras. We were right by the tunnel to the locker rooms and we had a nice view of the field. During warm-ups, fans were all standing up in the first row snapping pictures and shouting out to the players. Before the teams came out for kickoff the whole stadium sung “Pazza Inter Amala”, which was impressive.
Roma controlled most of the possession in the early going of the match. The Giallorossi’s first chance came in the 15th minute when Lucas Digne played in a cross to find the head of Edin Dzeko but Samir Handanovic got down well to make a good save. Roma had another great chance just a few minutes later as Handanovic made a good save on Maicon’s shot and Danilo D’Ambrosio made a goal-saving tackle on the rebound (Watch: https://twitter.com/LadsOffThePitch/status/660815777990332416). The visitors pressed with a high line of confrontation in the first half, which made it difficult for Inter to build up play from their back line but as the match went on, Inter found their way into the game.
Stevan Jovetic picked up the ball with his back to goal and laid the ball off for Gary Medel, who’s low strike from 25 yards found the bottom corner of the net. The whole stadium erupted to celebrate the 1-0 lead. In the final minutes of the first half, Roma were dominating play and were threating for the equalizer but Inter hung on to their lead.
Gary Medel was the first Inter player on the field for the second half and he received a standing ovation when Geoffrey Kondogbia replaced him only 6 minutes after the restart. The game opened up in the second half, as the action was end-to-end. There was a hectic sequence when Handanovic made 4 saves in 4 seconds! The goalkeeper got down to save Florenzi’s shot from distance, made a kick save with his feet on the rebound from Salah, got up to save the ball bouncing off his own defender and then caught Salah’s header. (Do I just delete this?) From my seat, I thought the ball went into the net two times in that sequence! Handanovic did brilliantly to keep the ball out of the net. I did not see it but in the 73rd minute Miralem Pjanic received his second yellow card and was sent off. The Inter fans heckled and cursed at him as he made his way off the field and down the tunnel. Despite going down to 10 men, Roma still had more possession but couldn’t create any real threats on goal. Inter had a few counter attack opportunities but weren’t precise (better word?) enough to double their lead. Inter hung on for a huge three points and to leapfrog Roma in the standings.
While Roma actually played pretty well, Inter were organized in defense and Handanovic was absolutely superb. The atmosphere for big games at the Giuseppe Meazza is spectacular. 59,213 fans screamed and went nuts at every bad call and applauded loudly for every tackle or good play. Also, Inter fans are pretty crazy. When Nainggolan pulled a shot wide right before halftime, the fans behind the goal were screaming and giving the middle to him. If you plan on taking the Metro after a game I would suggest buying your ticket before because there were very long lines to buy tickets in the Metro station. After watching so many games at the San Siro on TV, to be there for a big match was a really special experience.
Some Player Notes:
Samir Handanovic – Fantastic game from the goalkeeper. Made some great saves and was the Man of the Match.
Danilo D’Ambrosio – Had a good game including the goal saving tackle on Dzeko in the first half.
Freddy Guarin – This may already be established but he’s the most inconsistent player in the world. At times he looks great and then there’s times where he looks awful.
Stevan Jovetic – Played well and looked very good. Had the assist to Medel. I was surprised when Mancini took him off for Palacio.
Wojciech Szczesny – From the angle in the crowd I thought he could’ve done better on the goal. He seemed to get down a bit slow but it was still a very good shot from Medel.
Lucas Digne – Roma have done well to fill their hole at left back. Technically sound on the ball and crosses very well.
Miralem Pjanic – Despite his two stupid yellow cards, he’s a world-class talent. He has great touch and vision and plays with his head on a swivel.
Mohamed Salah and Gervinho – They both have great speed and looked dangerous on many occasions but they were both a little too one-footed which made it easier to defend them.
Edin Dzeko – I thought he was a bit lazy on the night. Didn’t get the best service but the striker had some chances just couldn’t convert.
Nicola Rizzoli – Not one of his better-officiated games. Missed a few handballs and was a bit lenient in my opinion.
I owe a huge thank you to Ciro Bianchino and Zio Pomerino for this incredible experience.