The pain won’t go away. Not for a long time. Roma will have to live with it.
“We have bleeding wounds that need caring for,” coach Aurelio Andreazzoli sighed. “Seven days will not be enough to heal a wound like this.”
It will leave a deep scar.
Stood in front of his players, Andreazzoli could offer them no words of comfort. “Everyone was crying in the dressing room. It was useless talking. We just looked at each other... What can you say? What can you say to a man who is crying?”
What, indeed. Roma had just lost the Coppa Italia final.
And as was the case in 2010, when they were beaten by an Inter side on course for an unprecedented treble, they’d missed the chance to lift this trophy for a record 10th time and thereby accessorise their shirts with a decoration no one in the Italian game yet possesses: a silver star.
That alone, however, couldn’t explain the tracks of their tears, the depth of despair and devastation felt by Roma. They could get over losing to Inter at this stage three years ago, but not to Lazio as on this occasion. Anyone but Lazio.
As a rivalry, the intensity of that between the capital clubs is often explained in the most basic terms as that of two teams who in the absence of regular national triumphs - Roma  and Lazio  have won just five Scudetti between them - tend to judge the success or failure of a season on the encounters between themselves.
This particular Derby della Capitale was different from the other 173 that had come before it, though, precisely because it also had the added significance of being a Coppa Italia final. Never before in the competition’s history had it happened at this stage.
In addition to local pride then, there was also silverware at stake and qualification for the Europa League too. After finishing sixth and seventh in Serie A, this was the only way left open to Roma and Lazio to get into continental competition.
The winner would take all. The loser would be left holding nothing except their head. Is it really any wonder Il Corriere dello Sport called it “the mother of all derbies”?
There’d been over a month’s worth of build-up following Lazio’s knock-out of Juventus and Roma eliminating Inter in the semi-finals. The city’s papers, its radio stations, blogosphere and twitterati spoke of nothing else. Derby fever held a tight oppressive grip on Rome.
With everything riding on it, tensions were high. A crude banner was strewn on a wall outside Roma’s training ground earlier in the week, its message macabre.
“Either the Cup or Death,” it read.
Even in Norcia, the town 100 miles outside Rome where Lazio had been sent by president Claudio Lotito for a week-long training camp following their defeat to Cagliari on the final day of the season, the Biancoceleste couldn’t escape harassment of the most menacing kind.
On the eve of the final, a number of Lazio players received intimidating phone calls. La Gazzetta dello Sport understands they were goalkeeper Federico Marchetti, midfielder Antonio Candreva, whose young daughter was apparently threatened, and striker Sergio Floccari.
“It’s not nice to be told: ‘You have to lose otherwise we’ll kill you’,” Lotito said. Not nice at all. The police were informed, although Lazio announced their intention to wait until after the final before making a formal complaint.
As it was, Rome’s forces of order were on heightened alert. Fears of a repeat of the incidents that had so marred the last Derby della Capitale when six people were stabbed and eight injured in a series of running battles before the game led to the determination not to allow anything of the like to happen again.
Daniele De Rossi expressed the hope that those ultras inclined to fight would “leave the weapons and knives at home.” They left them underneath two bridges close to the Stadio Olimpico instead. Thankfully the police discovered and confiscated the frightening array of axes and ice picks before they could be retrieved and used.
While there were some incidents, the authorities, for the most part, - and there were approximately 2,000 officers on duty - did manage to maintain order. It shouldn’t be all that surprising then considering the atmosphere that the final itself was a cagey affair. Not even a rendition of Gangnam Style by PSY could lighten the mood. He was roundly booed.
Lazio’s Curva Nord put on an magnificent choreography. The banner underneath set the scene: 'Hic Manebimus Optime' - Here we’ll stay excellently. It evoked the story of the unknown centurion who, according to Livy, managed to convince the plebei after the Battle of Veii, an Etruscan city, in approximately 396BC not to abandon Rome and settle there but to remain where they were.
Elaborating on this story, the Curva Nord depicted this centurion placing a Roman standard into the ground, his other arm around a Lazio player. “The Eagle is Rome, we are its heirs.” The implication was clear: Celebrating their 113th birthday this year, Lazio, as the motto Lotito had printed on their shirt collars at the beginning of the season aims to make clear, were the first club established in Rome not Roma, founded in 1927.
An hour and a half later, Lazio could also say that they had won the first ever Derby della Capitale Coppa Italia final. Senad Lulic scored the only goal of the game in the 71st minute. Stefano Mauri played in Antonio Candreva down the right. He fizzed a cross into the box, which caught Roma goalkeeper Bogdan Lobont out. He had tried to push the ball away to safety. Alas the Romanian’s hand was too weak and the ball came loose. Lulic, waiting at the far post, angled it in before wheeling away in delirious celebration.
It was a poignant moment for Lulic and Lazio coach Vladimir Petkovic. They’d lost two cup finals working alongside each other in Switzerland at Bellinzona and Young Boys Berne. Finally, the pair had won something together. But not before Marchetti made a superb point-blank save from Mattia Destro, one that only served to bolster the arguments of those who claim he has been the best goalkeeper in Serie A this season.
Apart from that, Roma had no real response. Andreazzoli threw on Pablo Daniel Osvaldo. But rather than turn the game around, he turned on his coach instead. Leaving the pitch at the full-time whistle, Roma’s chances of a comeback diminished by Panagiotis Tachtsidis’ sending off in added time, Osvaldo, upset at not starting, apparently insulted Andreazzoli before punching the advertising hoardings used as background in interviews.
“Causing a scene when the TV cameras are running is nothing new from him,” Andreazzoli later said. “But then in private he just moans and whines. That’s his problem, though, not mine. For a player who represents the national team, he should have better ethics, but again, that’s his problem.”
Italy coach Cesare Prandelli had a decision to make on whether to take Osvaldo to the Confederations Cup or not. A show of contrition wasn’t forthcoming. A tweet was instead. Osvaldo hit back at Andreazzoli, writing: “You’d do more good if you admitted to being incompetent... go and celebrate with Lazio.”
Prandelli has reportedly since excluded him from the World Cup warm-up event in Brazil.
As Roma returned to their Trigoria training ground to be greeted by around 200 angry fans, who threw eggs and stones at the team bus, shattering a window, Lazio celebrated the club’s sixth Coppa Italia and their second in four years. Petkovic joined his players under the Curva Nord, pulling on a falconry glove so he could hold Olympia, the club’s American Eagle, and lift her before the fans.
It caps an impressive first season for him in Italy. After making the best start to a campaign since Lazio began the defence of their first league title under Tommaso Maestrelli back in 1974-75, they also matched the points recorded by the team that won the club its second under Sven Goran Eriksson in 1999-00 - if only for the first half of the season.
True, Lazio faded in the second half of this term, but they did lose Miroslav Klose through the spring and were fatigued after taking every competition seriously. In addition to going deep in the Coppa Italia, they were unlucky to be knocked out of the Europa League at the quarter-finals stage by Fenerbahçe. Sunday’s game was their 57th of the season.
“I will remain the same Petkovic that arrived 10 months ago who has the intention of staying long-term, imposing and establishing himself in Italian football,” he said. “Now I ask where are we going to eat, I’m tired of thinking too much.”
Time to get the man a pizza.
James Horncastle will be blogging for us on all matters Serie A throughout the season. He contributes to the Guardian, FourFourTwo, The Blizzard and Champions magazine amongst others.