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Roman Rivalry Reaches Coppa Italia Final

One of the most historic and passionate rivalries in soccer will play out on a huge stage when the Rome derby reconvenes at Estadio Olimpico for the 2013 Coppa Italia Final. Roma booked its ticket April 17 with a stunning 3-2 win against Inter Milan in the second leg of the semifinals. Roma has a chance to win the trophy for an Italian record-setting 10th time, and will be facing Lazio in the championship match for the first time. In only his first season with Roma, Michael Bradley now gets a shot to play in a game that any player dreams of, and the buzz for an all-Roman final started … well, right away.

“Already today you sense the excitement,” said Bradley. “You walk outside and speak to different people, speak to friends who were born here and lived their whole lives here, and this Rome-Lazio final in Estadio Olimpico with a trophy on the line is something that comes around once in a lifetime. Francesco Totti said it last night after the game: ‘it will be a totally unique and special event for the entire city,’ and it’s the chance to step on the field and play a game against our big rivals, in our city and to walk off the field with a trophy.”

Despite sitting in sixth place and still in the hunt for a spot in next year’s Europa League, the season has been a mixed bag for Roma, and the chance to play for a title now has added significance.

“For us, given that the year we’ve had in the league has been too inconsistent, too up and down, now the position we’ve put ourselves in to play in a final is huge for the for the club and for the fans.” Bradley said.

Bradley started in midfield in both games of the semifinal. Curiously, the first leg took place way back on Jan. 23, a 2-1 home win for the Romans, which gave Wednesday’s match a different feel.

“The fact that the first leg was played so long ago meant that it wasn’t the normal situation of playing the first game one week and playing the second game a week later,” he said. “Obviously we won at home 2-1, so you know going into the second game that you have a slight advantage. You want to manage the game at the beginning, and it’s a fine line between trying to manage things and not go crazy but still start the game in a strong way. Then when they’re able to get the goal to go up 1-0, obviously at that point the advantage goes to them, so it’s on us to respond and make sure we’re doing everything we can to get ourselves back in it. The response, especially in the second half when we really needed to push things, was really good. In the end when you look over the two legs, we certainly deserve the chance to go through and everybody’s really excited to get the chance to play in a final.”