I’ve decided that Serie A’s languid, stylish grind is the perfect compliment to an almost Spring Sunday morning/afternoon. Definitely have fallen back in love with the Italian game.
This match was a surprisingly stylish slow motion slug fest with outrageous misses (Emanuele Giaccherini’s was amazing!), insane mood swings and drastic tempo changes. Juventus ground out an impressive, barely-breathing draw after playing with only 10-men for close to an hour. But, ultimately, the result stretched the Torino giants’ ugly winless streak to 4 matches and counting. Juve’s keeper Gianluigi Buffon was able to keep the match within his side’s grasp, making several difficult stops in the second half to atone for his foul which resulted in a penalty and provided Cesena with their first goal. Cesena is a tenacious, yet entertaining, squad and I really hope they are able to avoid the drop.
The end of the Brescia v. Inter match on Friday afternoon also bears mentioning, as it too was a dramatic blur with missed penalties, insane mood swings and wide-open end-to-end play. Inter has miraculously become a fun team to watch. I don’t think anyone in Europe, even Messi, is in more electric goal-scoring form than Samuel Eto’o.
AS Roma v. Lazio-
Recently, I spent a lot of gloriously lazy afternoons checking out an amazing Neorealism film program at the National Galley of Art. One of the Roman films, Visconti’s Bellissima, referenced soccer matches, twice. And as if I needed further evidence of how far gone I truly am–I actually spent time wondering if the characters were Roma fans or Lazio supporters. Luckily for me, Anna Magnani answered this burning question towards the end of the film in her own inimitable style (Roma, of course!) The always excellent Rough Guide to Cult Football has a great section on the Derby della Capitale, so I at least had some grasp on the deep historical significance of this match and the rivalry that has sprung from it. Lazio is a side with a fascinating history. Here is an excerpt from the “History of S.S. Lazio” at Wikipedia:
“Lazio is the oldest Roman football team. Wanting to encompass more than just the city of Rome that they were from, the club’s nine original founding members chose to name Lazio, the same name as the region of Italy in which the club is located.
Their first ever match of football came in 1902 against Virtus, a match considered, albeit unofficially, to be the first Rome Derby. That match was played at Piazza d’Armi, near Piazza Mancini, and Lazio duly won 3-0 with a hat-trick from centre-forward Sante Ancherani.
In 1907, the Italian Football Federation sponsored a Roman championship called I Categoria, which Lazio won, defeating early rivals Virtus in the final. Nonetheless, they were not invited into any national championship despite their success.
Lazio joined official league competition in 1912 as soon as the Italian Football Federation began organising championships in the center and south of Italy, and reached the final of the national championship playoff three times, but never won, losing in 1913 to Pro Vercelli, in 1914 to Casale and in 1923 to Genoa.
In 1927 Lazio was the only major Roman club which resisted the Fascist regime’s attempts to merge all the city’s teams into what would become A.S. Roma the same year. This was due to Giorgio Vaccaro, a general in the Fascist regime and influential in the sporting landscape. A true Lazio fan, Vaccaro defended the club’s right to keep its identity and Lazio were the sole opposition to the new team.”
The first Rome Derby between AS Roma and Lazio was held on December 8th, 1929. Roma triumphed 1-0. Yesterday’s edition was a tense, emotional battle that featured a spirited effort from Roma’s Francesco Totti, whose brace stood up as the only 2 goals of the match. The edge in Totti’s play was emblematic of the weight, passion, pride and history imbued within this fixture. Totti also embodied a level of gritty leadership the likes of which I wish somebody (anybody) at a certain North London club had the heart to emulate. It took Lazio some time to get untracked in this match, but I was really impressed by Cristian Ledesma’s orchestral abilities. Lazio seemed to funnel most, if not all, of the their offense through him and Sergio Floccari. They carried stretches of the match and notched some chances, but ultimately failed to score. This stinging loss in the Rome Derby left Lazio sitting at 5th place in the table with 51 points (still 2 ahead of Roma, though). The top of the Serie A table is still an excitingly fluid thing to behold and I’m psyched to see who finishes in the European spots.
I want to write a more in-depth post about Inter, Napoli and the mysteriously explosive goal scoring machine known as Udinese, which I will do soon.