The Essence of...(Roma 2-0 Lazio)

Memorable sporting events usually has one, or more, iconic sequences that we remember them instinctively by. They can be completely arbitrary, and differ according to who you ask. When Roma won lo scudetto nearly ten years ago, the memory that first comes to me—before seeing the pitch transform into one giant red organism, before remembering any of the goals—is Totti collecting the ball, bringing it into play a step inside Roma's penalty box. It was early in the game, and it signaled to me that he wanted that title more than anything and would do anything and everything to get it. I'm not sure anyone else remembers it, I don't think I've ever discussed those five seconds with anyone before.

Today's derby, though not memorable to any neutral spectators, too has such a sequence that tells you everything about the game in the space of a few seconds. To me, that's neither Totti running towards the sidelines after scoring his first, nor completing the circle by revealing version 2.0 of the shirt he showed Ilary when courting her almost exactly nine years ago. No, if you ask me the iconic sequence today was Radu attempting to head-butt Fabio Simplicio. It was a complete black-out, arguably the worst possible thing he could have done for his team. But I get it. Time was running down, Lazio staring at the impending fifth derby loss in a row. Radu's frustration had passed the boiled point, and taking the world's longest build-up ever to head-butt someone was symptomatic of a team long past the phase of having developed a complex. While I admittedly do take great pleasure in it, I don't intend for it to be a part of normal derby banter: if you ever wanted two seconds that symbolize in perfect clarity the mental state of a football team, look no further. That was it. For the other side of the coin, Fabio Simplicio's grin after having won the penalty signals a team with a mental advantage. His face showed signs of neither relief nor unbridled joy, rather he was just grinning the way you do when beating your friends in a game in the park. It had the air of superiority and smugness five wins in a row buys you, which while relaxing Roma even more no doubt further infuriated an opponent already at wit's end.

If you can't tell, I find this development to be brilliant.