While most of Europe and the world give their biggest matches very unimaginative names that generally range from “classic” to using the “eternal” epithet, the Italians are incredibly creative in this regard. Which is to say – real Italians.
Italy is a country with one of the most beautiful and longest football traditions in Europe and the world; its clubs have dominated continental club competitions for a century, its national team is the most trophy-winning on the planet after Brazil.
Bearing in mind that Serie A was created in this form back in 1929 (the title of national champion was played in different formats since 1898, with only 11 years of delay after the English Football League), at the same time as the Spanish Primera, and far before the Bundesliga, which was only formed in the sixties, it is no surprise that numerous city, regional and national rivalries developed.
The development of big city derbies in the north of Italy was influenced by several factors. First, the format of the competition was originally, before Serie A, such that it allowed only one regional champion to participate in the final tournament, so that, for example, Juventus and Torino could not compete directly for the title. Secondly, the north was the cradle of football in that country, and thirdly, it was always the richest region, so the best players logically ended up in the cities below the Alps.
When, in the twenties of the last century, the fascists recognized the overall potential of this sport, they started to consolidate the clubs by creating one from several smaller teams from each city; accordingly, they passed an informal regulation according to which no city could have more than one club in the top tier.
The exception to the rule was capital Rome, where all clubs were united in Rome, except for Lazio, which fought with all its might to prevent this from happening. This strong resistance against integration created another big city derby, which in its history and genesis is dramatically different from rivalries from the north (to begin with, it has to do with the struggle for bare survival).
Roma (left) vs Lazio (right) derby in 2008 🇮🇹 pic.twitter.com/OYoEMcV1d3
— 𝐂𝐚𝐬𝐮𝐚𝐥 𝐔𝐥𝐭𝐫𝐚 𝐎𝐟𝐟𝐢𝐜𝐢𝐚𝐥 (@thecasualultra) July 15, 2019
The first duel between Roma and Lazio took place in 1929 and the “wolf” won 1-0 thanks to a goal by Rodolfo Volk.
The rivalry between these two clubs is so great that fans sometimes claim that they would rather be relegated than lose to the enemy, or that victory is sweeter than beating Juventus in the Scudetto match.
In the 1970s, the legendary striker of Lazio, Giorgio Chinaglia, asked his teammates to burn the jerseys they were wearing when they lost to Roma. Or the story of Sergio Petrelli, a football player who played first for Roma and then for Lazio and who fired a gun from a balcony to disperse the deranged ultras of Roma who came to the hotel to wake up the Lazio players.
This derby also has several tragic episodes, such as the one in 1979 when Lazio fan Vincenzo Paparelli was killed by a rocket fired from the South to the North Stand of the Olimpico. Vincenzo was the father of two children. One of the most famous pictures in Italian football history will certainly be Francesco Totti’s selfie after the goal celebrated wildly by the fans in one of the derbies.
In all mutual official duels (179): Lazio has 49 wins, Roma 67 with 63 draws. Roma’s prince Totti is the player with most appearances in this derby 44 and he also is top scorer with 11 goals scored in Derby della Capitale same as another Roma’s legend Dino da Costa.