Juve vs Roma: the battle of the big balls

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It is apt that the new Paul Thomas Anderson film There Will Be Blood opens today in Italy.

Daniel Day Lewis stares down moodily from posters warning us that this a man who bears grudges, that there is no such thing as letting bygones be bygones.

Roma fans hold a similar one-eyed view of the world when it comes to Juventus. The perceived injustices of the past will never be far from the surface when the sides meet tomorrow in Turin’s Olympic stadium.

Francesco Totti got his retaliation in early when he claimed that the recent furore surrounding referee decisions going Inter’s way paled into insignificance to what went down when Luciano Moggi and Co. had officials in their pockets.

Apart from Lazio, of course, this is the one the Roma captain really wants to win.

“This isn’t a game like any other," he told La Gazzetta dello Sport. " I can hardly stand the build up to it.”

Like so many of his fellow citizens, Totti been brought up with stories of ‘I Gobbi’, the Hunchbacks (a symbol of good luck in Italy) exerting undue influence over the Italian game.

And like all bad blood, the origins are lost somewhat in the mists of time. There are dark mutterings of a conspiracy to hand Juve the title in 1931 after a 5-0 thumping by the Romans had threatened to disrupt the cosy status quo between the northern sides.

But it’s the ‘invisible goal’ in the 1980-81 season that still gets the capital’s blood boiling.

With three matches of the season left, Roma were only a point behind the Bianconeri and visited Turin for the title showdown. The visitors looked to have finally laid the old enemy out when Roman Turone popped up for what television replays showed was a perfectly good goal.

Referee Paolo Bergamo thought differently, however, disallowing it for offside. Accusations of bribing the official were never proved although Bergamo did gain further infamy as one of the referee designators caught up in the 2006 match-fixing scandal.

A decade of icy relations between the clubs thawed during the late ’90s – then Roma won the title in 2001 and rammed it down Moggi’s throat, crowing that they had beaten Juve and their 12th man.

Juve got their own back when they spirited Fabio Capello away from the Giallorossi in 2004 and so it continues.

As Roma’s veteran defender Christian Panucci succinctly put it (with true Italian bravado): “Juve are a ballsy lot but we can be ballsy as well. Let’s see who has the biggest!”