Yeah, okay, I get it: the Super Bowl is a big deal as far as football goes.
But for out-and-out passion, pride, and deep-seated rivalry, little-to-nothing can compete with the Rome Derby. And here, I’m talking about actual football, played with the feet, as God intended.
The Roma-Lazio derby match fits perfectly into the history of the city that gave us gladiatorial bloodsport. There is nothing else like it that doesn't involve weapons.
Two teams call the Italian capital home, and they share the stadium Stadio Olimpico, where they play their home games. Twice a year they meet to do battle in their shared arena.
One team, Lazio is a despicable gang of douchebags, worthy only of your hatred. The biancoceleste are not just bad at football, they are unlovable human beings.
Well, enough about them.
The other squad, AS Roma, is powered by a literally born-and-bred Romanista, Francesco Totti, one of football’s great fantastistas, and the heart-and-soul of this team. He has only ever played for one team—the giallorossi. He is il Capitano.
Roma also has another born-and-bred Romanista, their midfield monster Daniele de Rossi. He is Capitano Futuro. And one of the best defensive midfielders in Europe.
Expect them to play to the limits of their formidable abilities.
Expect lots of intensity, screaming, flares, hard tackles, and flag-waving—on and off the pitch.
This is football with a purpose.
Going into Sunday’s match, Roma have a lot on the line. Their season.
After finishing second in Serie A last year to Inter Milan (another team worthy of your hatred, in this case less because they are your bitter rivals, and more because they are a bunch of douchey, cheating mercenaries coached by the supremely odious Jose Mourinho), expectations were high going into this season.
Unfortunately, Roma stumbled through the first half of the season, until oh, roughly, mid-November, when they won the first derby 1-0.
That game (and the trouncing of Chelsea in the Champions League the week prior), set Roma on a long climb back up the Serie A table, back towards Champions League requalification.
That climb has stalled, and Roma currently sit in sixth place. Time is running out. They need this victory. But even if they didn't they would still want it with every fibre of their collective being.
If you don’t normally watch much soccer, may I suggest watching this game, to get some insight into why it is the world's most popular sport.
You will see full-throated hearts-on-sleeve, balls-to-the-wall passion, glory, and insanity.
The passion and the glory and the home team vs. the home team - Roman-style.
And if you'd like to shout along, you need only know two words: "Forza Roma!"