Rome derby to promote peace, not war

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It's derby weekend in the capital and anyone hoping for all manner of dastardly goings-on is set to be left disappointed.

While the players will be expected to get stuck into each other, on the terraces at the Stadio Olimpico peace and harmony is set to break out.

Outdoing the opposition in the stands is as much part of derby day in Rome as it is on the pitch and the opposing sets of fans will go to extraordinary lengths to keep their pre-game choreography under wraps.

However, what we won’t witness are... ultras on the pitch calling a halt to proceedings, a player making a fascist salute or racist banners being unfurled behind one of the goals – unsavoury features overshadowing previous encounters.

Passions will instead be directed towards remembering Gabriele Sandri, a year on from when the Lazio fan was killed en-route to a game in Milan against Inter.

Roma & Lazio unite to honour Gabriele Sandri

The part-time DJ was hit by a stray bullet as he apparently slept in the back-seat of a car parked at a motorway service station - and a police officer is now awaiting trial for murder.

In a show of solidarity, the Giallorossi ultras have promised to join their Biancoceleste counterparts in a fitting memorial to their “fallen comrade.”

Then, there’s also the sticky issue of putting the 2009 Champions League final, in the same venue, under threat.

UEFA chief Michel Platini has already warned he will take the match away from Rome if there is any off-pitch trouble.

On-pitch shenanigans are another matter and with so much at stake, especially considering Roma’s perilous position, good-will will be in short supply.

Di Canio's fascist salute celebration cooks up a storm in 2005 

A rare occurrence it may be, but Lazio come into the game as favourites - 14 points separate the two sides in the table.

For a former Roma captain, Giuseppe Giannini, the underdog tag suits him fine.

“The favourites usually lose, I played in enough of them to know that,” claimed the 44-year-old known as “The Prince” during his playing days and now coach of C1 outfit Gallipoli.

Lazio president Claudio Lotito is taking nothing for granted and is suspicious that all this wishy-washy Roma form will suddenly turn around and slap his boys in the face.

“I don’t believe they are in a crisis and they certainly a quality side,” he blurted out in the manner of one with everything lose.

It’s set to be a defining moment in the historic hold the Eternal City derby has over its citizens – both on and off the pitch.

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