Roma 2 v 0 Lazio (09.11.2003)
Having been to the Milan derby twice in recent seasons we decided to head south in search of another equally fierce Italian rivalry and take in Roma v Lazio – the Rome Derby. Once again, we had ‘Gazetta Football Italia’ to thank for whetting the appetite for this one!
Unable to secure tickets in advance, we managed to pick up tickets remarkably easily from touts – and that was within minutes of being dropped off by our taxi at the Curva Sud end of the Stadio Olimpico. I’ve always had that slightly anxious feeling on trips like this – where you’ve paid out to travel abroad specifically for a game – but have no real guarantee of actually getting in the stadium – especially for the big games like this! I suppose that adds an extra edge and anticpation to it all – but thankfully that wasn’t to happen on this particular trip!
The Curva Sud – which houses the Roma Ultras – is situated near the banks of the River Tiber. Having sourced tickets quicker than anticipated we had time to kill before kick off so walked back to the river and noticed a ‘floating bar’ in the form of a boat moored to the riverbank! This was to be our pre match watering hole and surprisingly it didn’t get that busy, so there were no unnecessary delays between rounds!
Our tickets were positioned in the Curva Nord – the Lazio ultras end – and after our experience in the Milan derby we decided to move towards the back of the stand to keep a low profile! The atmosphere in the Curva was amazing and chants of “Forza Lazio, Ole, Ole, Ole rang out to the tune of “yellow submarine”.
What was remarkably noticeable was that fans that clearly had tickets for the more expensive seats in the main tribunes were actually desperate to be in the Curva. This resulted in many fans attempting to scale the high perspex fencing that segregates the curva section with the main tribune. If you ever get to see this match on TV dont be fooled by the number of empty seats in the main stands – take a galnce at the Curva and it will look absolutely rammed!
Prior to kick off there was even time for some “in fighting” amongst the Lazio ultras – with flag poles seeming to be the preferred weapon of choice! Once the scrapping had quietened down, it was time for the pre game tifos that are customary in derby games like this. The effort from AS Roma was impressive, and appeared to mock one of Lazio’s players (see picture below):
The AS Roma Ultras Tifo…
A glimpse of the Lazio tifo and smoke filled Curva Nord!…
The atmosphere created by both sets of ultras provided far more memories than the on field action itself, that was until the final 10 minutes of the game. A free kick from the right was whipped in towards the six yard box and Mancini attacked the ball and executed a sublime back heeled reversed volley to send the Giallorossi wild. 5 minutes later and as Lazio tried to get back on level terms, Roma hit Lazio on the counter attack and Emerson was set free with a one on one against the keeper. He dispatched cooly to put Roma two nil up. Que more wild scenes on the Curva Sud, as Emerson hurdled the advertising hoardings and ran across the athletics track towards the Perspex fencing to celebrate with the ultras!
The Rome Derby is one of those games that really doesn’t disappoint. It should defintiely make your bucket list of games to see, and if you get the chance to go – defintiely go! Even if the game ends up low i quality, the performance of both sets of ultras will always make this a match day experience to remember.