Wednesday December 14 2016
More than a game for Roma

Juventus may be the strongest team in Italy, writes Andrea Tallarita, but for Roma fans they’re the ultimate enemy.

Other than Lazio, Juventus are in all likelihood the most virulently hated team among Roma fans. Some of the younger supporters grew up during the age of Inter’s hegemony and may find black-and-blue to be a more distasteful colour code, and there are of course Romanisti with their own preferred pet hates. Still, above all among most people old enough to remember Roma before Francesco Totti, the Bianconeri top the list.

There are three main reasons for this, and they are all as silly or as axiomatic as anything in football. The first is the mere fact of Juve’s success, which is historically so great one might as well call it measureless, and which inevitably draws upon itself all forms of envy and resentment.

The second has to do with the Bianconeri’s supposed links to corruption and match-fixing. These may often be hyped up to mythical proportions, so much so that Italian kids playing Subbuteo have been known to invent Juve-bonuses to make matches more ‘realistic’. Fair or not, these tropes remain an indelible part of the Italian football story, and are no less ancient than Juventus’ success.

Finally, and more particularly, there is a hazy feeling among Romans that Juventus are impostors, who dispossessed the Eternal City of the laurels to which she was entitled. Why is it that great capitals like London, Paris and Madrid should represent havens of football in their respective countries, while Rome counts a mere three Scudetti in 90 years? How can a team that isn’t even named after an Italian city take home so many of the domestic titles – and in whose name?

There are rational, historical answers to these questions, including the fact that great capitals aren’t always home to the most powerful teams (to wit: Bayern Munich). But this doesn’t change the gut feeling. In a country where everyone feels robbed, be it by the government, by taxation, by foreigners, or by their neighbours, it is a custom enthusiastically adopted by the Romans to feel robbed by Juventus, both physically and spiritually.

Unsurprisingly, a match with the Bianconeri is punctually followed by controversy – strictly in Roman dialect – regarding the referee’s decisions. Totti himself often partook in the tradition, from that first time in 2005 (“We were 11, they were 14”) to those comments just two years ago (“They should get a separate championship”). Somehow, this remains the case even when said decisions are in Roma’s favour – although in fairness, that hasn’t happened very often.

Here is an anecdote that perhaps best encapsulates the Roman attitude. In 2006, after the Calciopoli scandal came to light and it was rumoured that Juventus would be demoted, my neighbours in Rome announced a barbecue party in the square at the end of our street.

When the sentence came in and the Old Lady tumbled to Serie B, the party was cancelled – “because they were supposed to fall to C2!” (C2 was the equivalent, back then, of Lega Pro – the lowest league in professional football). The arch-enemies got penalized, but not enough. One way or the other, the Romanisti felt robbed.

The outfit from Turin have successfully replaced Inter over the last few years as the undisputed apex predator of Serie A. They managed to soften some of the animosity against them by building a strong team of young Azzurri, only to squander it by gutting their direct rivals on the market (including Roma, who lost Miralem Pjanic). They’ll find no friendship in Rome, this year no less than in the past.

The fact that it took a market operation to nullify a threat that, in the eyes of many, would have given Juventus a run for the Scudetto, is sometimes described as sly or dirty play. This is a matter of perspective, one which fans of a big club like Roma would do best not to abuse. And yet it is significant because it reveals what the game actually means for the Lupi.

Playing Juventus doesn’t represent a game against the strongest, but a game against the biggest. The success of the team in black and white is a measure of the aggregate of their resources: financial, logistical, cultural. They are by far the richest club in Italy, the one that built themselves a stadium, and the team with the most supporters. They play at home almost anywhere they go in the country, except in the largest cities like Rome, Milan and Naples.

This way of interpreting the match lends its outcome a particular moral weight. Roma aren’t a small team by any stretch of the imagination, but beating the holding champions still feels like watching the little man take down the giant. It’s that magical moment when Peter Parker first beats Flash Thompson, or even better: it’s when young Clark Kent realizes he’s Superman.

The limitations in Roma’s squad, exacerbated by their relentless injury crisis, make a victory highly unlikely. And even then, with only one point dividing the two teams, these same factors mean a Scudetto race seems frankly implausible. But the spectacle would still be worth the price of the ticket. There’s something to play for even when there’s nothing to play for, and there’s not a soul in Rome that doesn’t know that.

The Bianconeri are the proverbial Dream Crushers this season, reminding both Atalanta and Torino of where they belong. Cornered and wounded, the wolf is still going to put up a fight this Saturday. That’s because they’ve got the prettiest dream of all to defend: who never wanted to be Superman?

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Have your say...
@Juveman You are right mate but it get tiring to keep talking about the same thing in every blog. Just wish we could discuss a game for what it was and not dwell on the past.
on the 17th December, 2016 at 11:44pm
Al Dino ..don't bother mate and simply refer to my comment below.
on the 16th December, 2016 at 8:21am
@Al Dino

How did you manage to write that many words...
on the 16th December, 2016 at 7:42am
The continued denial of what was happening only proves that Juventus Executives and some of their fans (not all) prefer to operate under a false sense of infallibility. Yes, Juve is a strong club with or without the systematic help of officials, etc. But this total denial of what has been shown to be true is absurd. I am a Roma supporter. Roma is a lowly, underachieving, perpetual 'almost club'. But I love my team. I don't envy Juventus. Nobody does. Zero appeal for neutrals.
on the 16th December, 2016 at 2:19am
Moggi was guilty of "guiding a significantly structured association widely diffused across the whole territory with every single person involved fully aware [of what was going on]," branding him the "initiator of an illicit system influencing matches in the 2004-05 season (and not only this one)." The court had no doubts that Moggi used his influence and contacts to manipulate games in favour of Juve, who were scrapped of their 2005 and 2006 titles and relegated.
on the 16th December, 2016 at 2:09am
Personally I think Its only natural that everyone wants to measure them selfs against the best and in Italy Juve is the best but very few can claim to have a rivalry with Juve even if all of Serie A clubs would love to have a rivalry with them. That said looking forward to this weekends game i think this is more than a game for both clubs the repercussions are immense. On one side if Roma wins the title race would be wide open again and it would be a confidence booster for a squad in need of confidence in order to really believe that they can challenge for the title. On the other side If Juve wins the title race will almost certainly be over and the confidence booster would be a welcome perk going into the Supercoppa.

I also feel inclined to add my two cents on the comments below. People on these blogs leave out important details in their arguments in order to make their point seem valid. Like Maradonamac and his Higuain comment and a few others who seem to forget that Juve was never been convicted of cheating a detail that those who seem to hate on Juve keep leaving out when talking about Calciopoli.
on the 15th December, 2016 at 10:05pm
Do some research. The writer is a Roma fan, even he was born in Rome. 
on the 15th December, 2016 at 6:45pm
@MV good job leaving some details out of your "fact": I recall vaguely that some other teams were also found guilty. Also, a certain team was protected by statute of limitations in 2011. And Jesus, even if your "fact" based post wasn't misleading, its 2016! 10 years have passed. There's no similarity between this Juve and that of 2006, except Gigi and Chiellini.
on the 15th December, 2016 at 4:37pm
Mentioning Higuain's ban without stating what he did is very dishonest. He pushed the ref, and went on to fight everyone on the pitch. How many games do you think he should have been banned for? More important question, what difference would it make anyway? What would the league protect Juve in such a pathetic way when Juve is already winning it?
on the 15th December, 2016 at 4:32pm
roma and nearly every other team in Italy hate juve for one simple reason, which stands true for all time. HATERS GONNA HATE, and to add to it THEY HATE US CAUSE THEY AINT US.
on the 15th December, 2016 at 10:34am
On the one hand you have this article, on the other some of the choice comments found here.

No point in discussing the past, it's been done to death and you can draw your own conclusions. I don't know what Roma's plan is this team, probably park the bus again, but we finally have our best attacking players available and I expect them to be dismantled and put in there place.
on the 15th December, 2016 at 10:09am
Roma fans logic is that if they win a title (on average) once every 30 years, they are being robbed the other 29 years. Roma is NOT a big club. They are a provincial team when it comes to European competition. They embarrass calcio fans by conceding 7 goals against Man Utd, Bayern and such... Juventini are arrogant?! Being arrogant is different than being proud. In fact, what you see in delusional Roma fans is the definition of arrogance.
on the 15th December, 2016 at 8:49am
Fact: Juventus managing director Luciano Moggi manipulated the selection of referees to help the club pick friendly officials. Juventus were stripped of their 2005 and 2006 Scudetto wins. What are we debating? Juve were found guilty. And if anyone thinks that was an isolated case then they're either a Juve fan or stupid.
on the 15th December, 2016 at 3:13am

Can you explain how on earth Higuain got a 4 match suspension while Napoli were very much in the title race last season? The last time a player received a 4 match ban in Serie A was never.

Juve are a great side, but very protected by the league and have many important people invested in the club. That's when I lost all respect for Juventus FC.
on the 15th December, 2016 at 12:50am
Roma can do it if they pull together, they have very good energy going into this match.
on the 15th December, 2016 at 12:12am
You can have a great football team with great players and still be a club full of doping and cheating. They don't call them ladri for nothing.
on the 14th December, 2016 at 10:06pm
@Maradonamac Juve were thrown off their perch in 2006. How did That work for Italian football?
I give you that Juve fans are sometimes arrogant, as fans of winning teams usually are. But Juve fans are really tired of victim mentality among their Serie A rivals.
on the 14th December, 2016 at 8:49pm
@Ravanelli You must understand, even when the explanation defies ALL logic, Juve is still at fault. They don't see the portion of Juve's player getting sent off, only the part that goes Juve's way. It's short-sighted, biased, and pretty laughable but at the end of the day, winners find ways to win and losers find excuses. The fact they're stiller bitter about something that happened in 1981...THIRTY FIVE YEARS AGO just shows how unsuccessful their team truly is.
on the 14th December, 2016 at 8:19pm
Not just for Roma fans, but for all the clubs chasing them. Wether it's for being a very good football team, or a corrupt club etc, Juve are disliked very much and the sooner someone knows them off their perch, the better for Italian football.

I don't see it happening any time soon though. Oh, and their fans are an arrogant bunch aswell.
on the 14th December, 2016 at 7:35pm
I hope we see a good game. But I doubt it. It's hard to play a clean game with a team that frequently view themselves as the victims.

It also funny that Roma fans still talk about Turone. The referee was definitely paid off by Juve because he sent off a Juve player, just as a smoke screen for calling off the offside goal that was possibly maybe coming later. Brilliant solid plan by Juve.

But you're talking about a team that won very little in Italy and has been a disgrace for Italy in Europe. They need someone to blame.
on the 14th December, 2016 at 7:10pm
Roma don't cheat. Apart from changing the employment rules midseason so nakata can come on against juve and score.
on the 14th December, 2016 at 7:05pm
If you look back at his previous work on this site, you'd see that Andrea is a Roma fan...
on the 14th December, 2016 at 3:14pm
The fact that the writer is a Juve fan has already been highlighted and is obvious. That aside, the reasons for the hatred between these two teams is more historical than that. There is a history of contoversies regarding matches and players/coaches moving from Roma to Juve other than Pjanic (see Emerson, Capello etc). As Roma are by far and away better than both of the Milan clubs who are constantly going through moments of instability and changes I hope to see Roma continue to challenge Juve
on the 14th December, 2016 at 3:05pm
Clearly the writer is a Juve fan and probably not a very old one:

The 'hate' vs Juventus started not due to the 3 reasons he gives, but due to one important incident on May 10th 1981: the incorrectly ruled out goal by Turone, the match ended 0-0 which meant Juve would grab the scudetto that year.
That was one of many incidents that at least can be considered 'dubious' in Juve's favour, others that have afterwards been proven to been 'sold' (Racabulto in the 1-2 victory in 04/05 eg).
on the 14th December, 2016 at 1:30pm
Juventus : Roma 3 : 1
on the 14th December, 2016 at 1:27pm
As far as I can tell Italy as a country likes cheating, Juve is not the only club caught cheating, and one can bet a leg that Roma is not that innocent also. And yes I am a Juventus fan, but one that hopes to see a great game on Saturday regardless who win.
Note: after we saw what happened with FIFA and Football leaks making Juventus the only bad guy is stupid.
on the 14th December, 2016 at 1:26pm
There's only one reason, Juve was blamed and accused for cheating and they've been caught cheating plain and simple and that's why they're hated. Eventhough Juve are clearly the strongest Italian club right now, there's still that helping hand that comes to light whenever things get tough for them.

The writer is clearly a Juve fan.
on the 14th December, 2016 at 11:43am

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