Thursday May 23 2013
The Eternal Coppa Final

Capital rivals Lazio and Roma contest the Coppa Italia this Sunday, with more than just a trophy on the line. Luca Cetta previews the mother of all Finals.

Not since the Battle of the Milvian Bridge in 312AD has a Roman civil war been as keenly contested as it will this Sunday. Back in the 4th Century, Constantine the Great claimed control over a large portion of the Roman Empire when he defeated co-Emperor Maxentius. A short distance from the famous Ponte Milvio is the Stadio Olimpico, the scene of this Sunday’s civil scrap, the Coppa Italia Final. It’s probably the most significant decider in a number of years.

When Lazio and Roma clash, the main thing up for grabs is silverware. It may ‘only’ be the Coppa Italia, but make no mistake, both clubs and their supporters want to lift the trophy against the other. Want proof? Note the clamour for tickets when they were made available. Fans want to be part of the occasion. Only twice have sides from the same city contested the Final. In 1937-38 Juventus defeated Torino, while an all-Milano affair decided the 1976-77 edition – the Rossoneri sealing their fourth crown.

Capital bragging rights are at stake. It would be the ultimate joy for supporters to see their respective club captains hoist the trophy high into the Roman sky having vanquished their hated foe. In addition to a sweet victory is the added caveat of European football in 2013-14. There’s one Europa League place up for grabs and it belongs to the winner.

Lazio are protecting a recent unbeaten Derby della Capitale record. They’ve not tasted defeat since March 2011, winning three of the last four. Claiming a European spot along with their sixth Coppa will be a fine end to a positive first season in charge for Vladimir Petkovic. For President Claudio Lotito, the Final is the catalyst for next season. “We want to strengthen the squad, that’s for sure. But that will depend on whether we can achieve our objective.”

They battled bravely this term, ultimately sliding down the ladder as the Europa League push intensified. But when Petkovic said Lazio would honour the Cup competitions he meant it. “We did very well in Europe, reaching the quarter-finals, while we have the opportunity to win the Coppa Italia. We can give a sense of consistency to what we have achieved this term,” he said prior to the League-ending loss against Cagliari.

Petkovic will be sweating over the fitness of Hernanes, who missed Cagliari along with Stefan Radu, and Bruno Pereirinha. However, the Brazilian maestro did rejoin training with the main group earlier in the week at the team’s retreat in Umbria. Michael Ciani and Ogenyi Onazi have skipped recent matches but are hopeful of taking part.

The Lupi too have injury concerns to contend with. Daniele De Rossi, Federico Balzaretti, Marquinhos and Maarten Stekelenburg all missed the Serie A closer versus Napoli last Sunday. Totti was suspended for that victory, so will be fresh heading into the Final.

The biggest news surrounding Roma at present is the ongoing coaching saga. Walter Mazzarri’s decision to leave Napoli has him linked to the Trigoria post. Milan’s Massimiliano Allegri is another contender. But for current boss Aurelio Andreazzoli, change is not required. “Have Roma already found my successor? Have you forgotten that there is already a Coach here with full power to do his job? I get bored repeating the same things all the time. I’ve already said that I’d confirm myself in the job.” Adding the Coppa to his CV will be a feather in Andreazzoli’s cap. That, along with Europe, could convince the Giallorossi owners he deserves a permanent gig.

Finishing on a high note is a chance to prove they have moved forward in the two seasons since the new ownership arrived. This is after looking unlikely European contenders when Zdenek Zeman was sacked. Cup success also ensures Roma are the first club to win the competition 10 times, allowing a silver star to be added to their shirt.

It will be a nervous few days in the Eternal City, for a clash shaping up to be the most memorable Final since the recent abolition of the two-legged affair. Rome will be rocking on Sunday evening as fierce rivals battle for the trophy and so much more.

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Have your say...
have espn totally lost the plot?, sunday night they are screening the indy 500 {the most tedious motor race in the world by far} and a pointless french league game instead of the Coppa Italia espn UK audience do not want this !!!!! Forza Roma, Avanti Totti !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
on the 26th May, 2013 at 5:52am
Ieri, Oggi, Domani.

Forza Lazio.
on the 25th May, 2013 at 8:49am
Forza Roma.Wish to see Totti finish his career with this silverware.Far from Italy love for Roma from India
on the 25th May, 2013 at 4:37am
Massive game but not even live on ESPN in the UK...
on the 24th May, 2013 at 10:42am
Looking forward to what should be an amazing and intense final! Lazio deserve a victory to top of a good season under Petkovic, with entertaining and smart football. Lets hope the fans and city of Rome contributes to a memorable match! Forza Lazio!!
on the 24th May, 2013 at 3:53am
Bang Bang Bang
Forza Lazio
on the 23rd May, 2013 at 11:20pm
Cant wait for a great match, hope there is no violence. This game can be a great advert for Italian football, if the fans behave. May the best team win!
on the 23rd May, 2013 at 5:23pm
Well said Manny!. I have always liked Roma more than Lazio, but because of Petkovic, I now have a soft spot for Lazio. He has been very classy throughout this season, I like his tactics, & the intensity of Lazio's play; he has improved many of their players, & like you said, his attitude towards the Europa league was excellent. May the best team win!
on the 23rd May, 2013 at 2:33pm
You can thank Zeman for getting them them this far in the Coppa, and salvaging Roma's season with a chance at Europe.
on the 23rd May, 2013 at 12:51pm
Forget about any games going on on Saturday. THIS is the big match of the weekend and a suitable ending to the football year.
on the 23rd May, 2013 at 12:36pm
For true fans of series A and passionate football this is defiantly going to be a tasty match in the coppa Italia this Sunday with everything at stake! European football, city rival bragging rights and ending the season a high and can decide the targets for both clubs next season, but in terms of who I think would deserve this most even though I prefer Roma to win... Lazio deserves this for the good job the coach has done and for series a they've done well in Europa league which helps our co-ef
on the 23rd May, 2013 at 9:45am
As a massive roma fan I have felt unbelievably nervous in the last week. The derby is beyond words. The whole season rides on 90 minutes, we need the europa league and euro football. We just cant lose. We have to win. I will be praying saturday night. We love you roma, you can do it. I hope there is no trouble, although I think there will be. Losing isnt an option.Totti to decide the final. If we win I will play Antonello Venditti all night long. Forza Roma.
on the 23rd May, 2013 at 9:43am
Really looking forward to the game, but am equally wary of the behaviour of some of the 'fans', & De Rossi,(will he do a trademark dive, nasty challenge, or hold onto his face in agony, when he hasn't been touched there?). This is an opportunity for all involved to put on a great show, & make all Italians and fans of Italian football proud. I hope that they don't let us down!
on the 23rd May, 2013 at 9:33am

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