She Taw a Puddy Tat

This is a rather strange derby, for a multitude of reasons. We have the ticket situation aptly dubbed a "rape of the constitution", and covered here with palpable resignation by Vanda. We're faced with the world-upside-down situation in the table which Lazio are on top of (although I hope no one is seriously contemplating them staying there throughout the season; there's rivalry and then there's masochism). Totti won't be there, for infamous reasons, but even if he were he wouldn't be the protagonist this derby.

In the centre of all attention we instead find Olimpia, Claudio Lotito's star signing who have single-handedly (er...) "enthused all laziali" and is largely responsible for bringing families back into the stadium. If you don't believe me, ask Lotito.

Now, I'm not sure if you're in the habit of checking out Lazio's website, but there was a poll up at the start of the season in which fans could vote on what to name their new mascot. "Olimpia" won out, beating fierce competition like "Skeggia". Missing, however, was the option to vote for which bird to choose. That has proved unfortunate. See, Olimpia is a Bald Eagle. The same as America's symbol, to provide a well known reference point. But here a problem arises: the eagle of the Roman Empire was the Golden Eagle, which isn't the same as its North American cousin. The closest comparison would be if Roma chose a coyote as its mascot and Totti replacement (Lotito has said Lazio has no need for a bandiera like Nesta, since the club has Olimpia), which would obviously be hilarious and very, very wrong.

Not even this star of the derby will be there in her usual role, her planned route over the Olimpico cancelled. There is, in other words, a void for a hero to step up, in the absence of the two team's symbols.