In the 1st Century, long before football made the epic journey to settle in the minds of men, Rome’s main attraction was the events taking place inside the colosseum. The most famous one being the fight to death contests, in which gladiators engaged in a tussle that could only have one man walking out the arena alive.
Thanks to Italian Serie A league, today Rome has a different kind of sporting attraction that draws a mammoth crowd more than any other part of Italy. It is the Derby della Capitale or simply known as the Rome Derby, that features AS Roma and Lazio. The fact that these two Italian clubs share the same stadium has made the game even more attention-grabbing since 1929 and every encounter is characterized by intense emotional rivalry.
This weekend, the two Roman clubs renew their rivalry when they meet at the Stadio Olimpico, many will recall this stadium as the one which hosted last year’s champions league final. Despite the fact that history and facts indicate that AS Roma is more superior to Lazio, it’s quite difficult to predict who will get the better of the one.
In the scuddetto, AS Roma begun the season on the wrong foot but have started making a steady climb at the table standings. Their 21 points have put them at the 9th position, 14 points behind the league leaders Inter Milan. Lazio on the other hand have not been in their best, they have amassed 13 points and occupy the 15th position, just above the relegation zone.
Although both clubs are not competing in the UEFA champions’ league, they are representing Italy in the Europa cup. As Roma have a good chance of qualifying to the next round whereas Lazio are on the verge of making an early exit.
AS Roma recognizable when playing with their maroon red jerseys, will be led by their talismanic skipper Francesco Totti, who retired from national duty to focus more on his club. Many of the club’s fans consider Totti a living legend and it’s rather unusual for them to talk about Roma, without mentioning his name.
Totti’s performance this season has been quite outstanding, something that has prompted Marcello Lippi, Italy’s national coach, to modestly request him to consider playing at next year’s 2010 world cup in South Africa.
Lazio, who prefer wearing sky blue jerseys, will heavily rely on Tommaso Rocchi, the clubs current top scorer. Something interesting to note is that, in the last two seasons, Roma have always won the first leg fixture and Lazio winning the second one.
As the two clubs step into the stadium for the game to begin, the city of Rome will hold its breadth for 90 minutes, in anticipation of seeing which team will have its men left standing.