There will be no match recap for the derby, because there really isn’t anything to recap. What went on today in Rome was merely the faint semblance of a football game. A real game or competition involves two teams playing by the same set of rules, but it’s clear that Roma have their own unique set of regulations that apply only to them. It was clear in their match against Bologna, it was clear in their match against Parma, it was clear last week in Lecce, and it was clear again in the derby. And if you still aren’t convinced, simply have a look at the absolute debacle that was Roma’s exit from the Champions League; thoroughly humiliated on the field, their underhanded tactics were on display for the world to see. Without their usual treatment from the officials, the end result was a red card (with another two possible), an open UEFA investigation into De Rossi’s actions, and a 6-2 aggregate loss.
Coming back to Serie A, how can Lazio be expected to play a serious match when they are systematically prevented from doing so? When Matuzalem has the ball all alone, 20 meters away from Roma’s goal, with a variety of dangerous options open to him, what can he do when the referee stops play for Mexes, who was clearly faking injury? The referee literally stopped Lazio from playing in this case, as he did throughout the match. As for Totti, one episode sums his situation up perfectly. When Ledesma asked the referee for the correct distance on a free kick, said referee finally approached Totti after Ledesma all but begged him to do so. What was Totti’s reaction? Right in the referee’s face (literally), he ignored his order to back up and stood where he had been all along. And the referee did nothing. So how can you consider anything a sporting competition when certain players have complete and total control over the officials?
To complicate matters further, Edy Reja failed, yet again, to mentally prepare his team for the derby. Exactly as we saw during the first derby of the season, Lazio’s players looked nervous and timid. They are a better team than AS Roma this year, and came into both matches with healthy leads in the championship standings, but you would never know by looking at the players. Not once did you get the impression that they believed in their own superiority. That Sculli (clearly having an off day) was left on the field, as Zarate and Hernanes were simultaneously taken off, is bad enough. But worse was doing nothing in the prior portion of the match. Roma had moved Burdisso out to fullback so he could mark Zarate one on one, limiting his chances to make decisive runs. After some early sparks from Maurito, this tactic began to work well for Roma, with Zarate having less and less of an impact. And how did Reja react? He didn’t. He didn’t try to move Zarate to another spot of the field, and he didn’t have his team capitalize on the space left by Burdisso’s extreme position. Once again, the coach and his players failed to reflect the enthusiasm and determination of their fans.
Ah yes, the fans. Despite this being Lazio’s fifth consecutive loss in the derby, I have never been more proud to be a Lazio supporter. The amazing display before the match, partly to celebrate the 150th anniversary of Italy’s unification, was of a level that Roma fans are simply incapable of. That Lazio supporters sang more, and sang louder, throughout the match is nothing new. This was the case in the last derby, and has been the case for years now. There is simply no comparison between the fans of the two clubs, and simply no question of where my loyalties could ever lie. If you don’t really care about your team unless they are winning, then Roma is the team for you. If you are the type of person who constantly looks to others for favors and unfair advantages, Roma is the team for you. If you don’t mind cheating to win, Roma is the team for you. And if you don’t understand the first thing about football, haven’t got the slightest clue about the game, and simply like waiting for help from the guy with the whistle, Roma is the team for you. For all the rest of us, those that understand, the choice is clear.
Note: having just seen the match highlights, there is clear evidence of a laser being shined on Muslera’s eyes just prior to Totti’s free kick. Let’s see what the league does about this.