The Doomsday Scenario

The derby is always big. It is big for precisely the same reasons that Roma and Lazio for most of their respective careers haven't been world class clubs, going at clubs in the elite echelon of football's eco system; when all else fails, the derby is at least a last resort to restore some good will and feel better about one's own club by mercilessly mocking the others. This time the game is big for primarily other reasons, as if the normal city bragging rights weren't enough.

Since this derby came into everyone's consciousness as being just around the corner, a small minority of Rome have recognized a rare chance to feel fulfilled in their football lives. This Lazio-Roma, this time, takes on proportions seldom reached even with several radio stations whose sole raison d'ĂȘtre is to pump up tension around as well as interest in AS Roma and SS Lazio, and fans of these two clubs with often self-important self-views. Roma are playing for the scudetto - not just playing for it, Roma actually are in command - and Lazio are fighting for survival. They'll probably make it, and thus ruin the fun for everyone, but the game is no less important for it. Because for Lazio, nothing could inspire them to greatness more than the opportunity to be the proverbial wrench in Roma's wheel. And that opportunity is bigger than ever this Sunday. This derby is sent from heaven for the unfortunate souls across the other side of the Olimpico, and one has the feeling that giving a hand to Inter here could potentially save their entire season, which has been a notoriously bad one even for them.

Some laziali have crowed that they'll win the derby and roll over when they play Inter in coming weeks, to be sure to deny Roma this strange shot at success. This calls back memories of previous misfortunes associated with supporting Lazio: in 2002, their team played then league-leading Inter on the very final day of the season, with nothing to play for themselves. The laziali invited the Inter fans to join them for the afternoon to celebrate Inter's scudetto win. Because Lazio would - obviously - take it easy and ensure Inter's triumph, but more importantly make sure Roma had no mathematical road to the scudetto.

Their players didn't listen, however, and Poborsky became a cult figure after gesturing towards his own fans to go to hell as he was whistled and booed for scoring (for Lazio!), and ultimately winning the game. Inter lost the scudetto, and the day became haunting for Inter. An open wound that stung endlessly until that whole calciopoli thing happened and a band-aid scudetto came delivered. The same day became something to be ashamed of for laziali everywhere, the memory of them cheering against their team for fear of their jealousy towards Roma. The lesson, kids, is to not buy into whatever dreamy scenarios they are trying to depict as reality. They tried it before, it didn't work.