Soccer: Rome derby cup final stirs excitement, concern

Trouble has marred many past clashes between Roma and Lazio

Soccer: Rome derby cup final stirs excitement, concern

(By Paul Virgo) Rome, April 18 - Rome is looking forward to the Italian Cup final on May 26 with a mix of excitement and trepidation after both of the capital's Serie A sides reached the competition's climax. A Mattia Destro double helped AS Roma beat Inter Milan 3-2 at the San Siro on Wednesday to complete a 5-3 aggregate semi-final win and set up a showdown with Lazio, who knocked out Serie A champions Juventus in the last four in January. It will be the first time that the final, which is set to take place at Rome's Stadio Olimpico on May 26, is also a Rome derby. "There's just one match left in this competition and it will be a unique event for Rome," said Roma captain Francesco Totti. The concern is that the final could be marred by the violence that has frequently hit Rome derbies in the past, including the league match between the sides that took place earlier this month. Four people were arrested for involvement in the violence that saw eight people stabbed in a series of running battles. None were seriously injured, even though an ambulance arriving to provide medical assistance was attacked too. Police intervened with tear gas and seized knives, screwdrivers, clubs and even an axe. The four arrested were Romans aged between 24 and 27 who have now been banned from attending a sporting event for five years. There has been even worse trouble in previous years. In 1979, Lazio fan Vincenzo Paparelli was hit in the eye and killed by a flare fired by a Roma fan from the opposite end of the stadium. A derby in 2004 was abandoned when hard-core ultra fans walked up to pitch to tell the players about reports that a child had been killed by a police car outside the stadium. The reports were false. A long battle ensued between police and fans outside the ground afterwards. Roma coach Aurelio Andreazzoli, however, said he was hopeful there would no be no such trouble and is relishing the game, which represents both teams' only hope of winning a trophy this season. "The thought of a derby like this, played on a May afternoon, gives me goose pimples, not so much for the players, but for the fans," he said Rival players and supporters, meanwhile, have already started teasing each other ahead of the final. Roma's Italy midfielder Daniele De Rossi said he was disappointed his side won't be up against "better" opposition than Lazio. "These are the sort of things you say, maybe to fire up the squad," responded Lazio captain Stefano Mauri. "We're already charged up enough and we can't wait to play the game".

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