Roma - Stadio Olimpico - Capacity: 82,307 All Seater
The Stadium – Stadio Olimpico One of the most famous stadiums in European football has remained relatively unchanged since it opened in 1960 for the Rome Olympic Games in the same year. Both tenants had previously played across the Tiber in the Stadio Flaminio, which is now the home of the Italian Rugby team. The stadium is a UEFA 5-star venue, despite the presence of the athletics track. It has had the honour of hosting three Champions League / European Cup Finals including the infamous penalty victory by Liverpool against the home team Roma in 1984, as well as hosting the 1990 World Cup Final between Germany and Argentina.
The stadium is a perfect bowl, with all stands sweeping around to meet. A roof offers full protection from the elements. The seats in the lower part of the stands are simple bits of plastic bolted onto the terracing, with no back support. The stands have an 8foot high glass screen protecting the players from the fervent fans, as well as a mote around the running track. The Lazio fans call the Curva Nord home, whilst the Roma fans occupy the opposite end in the Curva Sud.
Twice a year the stadium is a riot in more ways than one, when the two teams meet in the Rome derby. On a couple of occasions in recent years, events off the field have overshadowed the match, with the derby in 2003 actually being abandoned due to trouble between the rival fans. However, for the forthcoming season there will be no Rome derby as the decision of the Match fixing trial found Lazio guilty of being involved, and saw them relegated to Serie B, whilst Roma benefited from Juventus’s enforced demotion by taking their place in the UEFA Champions League. In early October 2006, UEFA announced that the stadium would also host the Champions League final in 2009.
AS Roma were formed some years after their city rivals Lazio in 1927 with the merger of a number of local teams including Alba, Audace and Roman FC. They won their first Scudetto in 1942 whilst the league was weakened due to the effects of World War II. After a brief period in Serie B in the early 1950’s, the club regularly featured in the top 6 of Serie A and actually finished 3rd in 1975. However, the club was never mentioned in the same breath as Milan or Juventus and struggled to raise their game above mediocrity. In the early 1980’s the team started to improve with Italian Internationals such as Bruno Conti and Brazilian star Falcao providing the spark that had been missing. In 1981 they narrowly finished runners up to Juventus, although the following season they did managed to win the title for the second time.
In 1983 the club played in the European Cup for only the second time. After some close games versus Gothenburg, CSKA Sofia and Hertha Berlin, Roma found themselves up against Dundee United in the semi-finals. The team froze on the big occasion and lost 2-0 in Scotland. However, just a week later they played the Scots in front of a full house in Rome and won 3-0 to reach the final of the European Cup for the first time and more importantly in front of their home fans. Unfortunately they couldn’t over come a stunning Liverpool side that rode their luck in 120 minutes of football before keeping their nerve in the penalty kicks to win their fourth European Cup.
The club then settled back on a period of mid-table finishes until the turn of the century when under coach Fabio Capello they captured the Scudetto again in 2001 thanks to the goals of homegrown Francesco Totti, Gabriel Batistuta, Cafu and Vincent Candela. Unfortunately they could not make their mark on the subsequent Champions League campaign, finishing third behind Liverpool and Barcelona in the 2nd Group Stages. In 2004 they finished runners up in the Serie A, again through the contribution of Totti.
They suffered a nightmare though in Europe as they managed only 1 point from their 6 Champions League Group games, and played behind closed doors for two games due to an incident in the game versus Dynamo Kiev led to the match being abandoned. Last season they were the form team for long stretches. They actually recorded 11th consecutive wins at one point – an Italian Serie A record. In the end they finished 5th – although the match fixing ruling promoted them to 2nd and automatic entry into the Champions League. They also reached the final of the Coppa Italia where they lost over two legs to Inter Milan.
This season has been a mixed bag. Without the distractions of AC Milan and Juventus, Roma hoped to be challenging for top spot but this hasn’t happened yet as they have fought for 2nd place with Palermo. In Europe they have performed well enough to qualify in a weak group with Valencia for the knock out rounds.
Despite taking their name from the region around Rome, SS Lazio were relatively late entrants in the Italian leagues. They were actually formed in 1900 as an Athletics club, with the football team playing their game two years later. In 1912 the club were admitted into the Italian League and despite good progress in the next decade was never able to win the championship despite finishing runners up on three occasions.
In 1927 the plan of the ruling bodies within Rome was to merge all of the local teams into one club that could compete with the giants in the north. Whilst a number of clubs agreed to this, forming the team now known as AS Roma, Lazio refused and have since been associated with this anti-disestablishmentarism. Two years later however, they were admitted into Serie A although they failed to make any impact on the dominance of Torino and Juventus. The team won their first trophy in 1958, winning the Coppa Italia.
Three years later the club were relegated to Serie B for the first time and spent most of the 1960’s and early parts of the 1970’s bouncing between the two divisions. In 1973 they came within a whisker of winning the Scuddeto after losing on the final day to Napoli. However twelve months later they managed to hold onto their lead throughout the season with goals from Chinaglia and win their first title.
The remainder of the 1970’s proved to be a disappointment as the team failed to finish above 8th place. However, in 1980 they team were forcibly relegated in relation to the betting scandal that engulfed Italian football. Whilst they returned in 1983 to the top league, relegation two seasons later ensured that the club were no longer considered one of the big teams in Italy. In 1987 the club came within a play off of being relegated to Serie C. In 1992 Sergio Cragnotti took over the club and instigated a massive revival in fortunes for the Lazio faithful. Between 1993 and 1997 the lowest the club finished in Serie A was fourth. At the end of that season the club appointed Sven Goran Eriksson as coach and within twelve months he had taken the team to the final of the UEFA Cup where they lost an all-Italian affair to Inter Milan.
They did have the consolation of capturing the Coppa Italia a few weeks later. One of the major transfers during this period was the decision to bring in Paul Gascoigne from Tottenham Hotspurs. Despite some off the field antics, Gazza was relatively successful at the club and scored some key goals. However, it was inevitable that his stay here would be a short one and he returned to Britain with Glasgow Rangers in 1995 after 47 appearances and 6 goals.
In 1999 the team again came within one game of winning the championship, with the attacking force of the team being provided by Roberto Mancini, Attilio Lombardo and Pierluigi Casiraghi. The team did win the last ever European Cup Winners Cup at Villa Park when they beat Real Mallorca. Twelve months later they achieved the unthinkable and won the Double as well as beating Manchester United to become the first and only Italian team to hold four major trophies at any one time.
Eriksson left in 2001 to take up the position as England coach after a disastrous run in the league and in Europe where they were eliminated from the 2nd Group Stage by Leeds United and Real Madrid. Since then a number of coaches have come and gone, including Dino Zoff and Roberto Mancini. In 2002 Cragnotti was forced to step down due to the financial crisis being suffered by his company Cirio (who were also the shirt sponsors). With money being very tight a number of big name players were let go, and the club relied on youth. In 2005 coach Delio Rossi managed to persuade lifelong fan Paolo Di Canio to lead the team, and through his drive and determination he scored 11 goals in 50 appearances to keep them in the top flight.
Last season the team finished in 6th place and thus earned a UEFA Cup spot. However, the outcome of the match-fixing trial saw Lazio implicated and initially they were automatically relegated and were ordered to start the 2006/07 season with a points penalty. On appeal, Lazio were re-instated with a 30-point penalty meaning that they finished in 16th place, just one point above the relegation zone, as well as starting this season with a 3-point penalty and being stripped of their UEFA Cup spot. So far this season the team have started well and sit in mid-table as at the end of November although they are unbeaten in their last six matches.
How to get to the Stadio Olimpico The stadium is located in the northern suburbs of the city, close to the river Tiber. It is not really close to any public transport and so be prepared for a bit of a walk. There are a couple of ways to get to the stadium on a match day. Either take the metro line A to Ottaviano and then get bus number 32, or take metro line B to Flaminio then catch tram 225. Both public transport options terminate just east of the bridge over the Tiber. From here it’s a 5-minute walk to the stadium. If you are in the city centre before the game then allow at least 30 minutes for either of these options. A taxi from Stazione Centrale would take around 20 minutes and cost €20.
For a more detailed overview of who plays where in Rome go to Footiemap.com.
How to get a ticket for the Stadio Olimpico In the 2005-2006 season new laws have been introduced to help fight violence in football stadiums. Tickets are supposed to be issued to named individuals, upon provision of address and ID. The application of these laws is causing a headache for everyone, and as we write most clubs still haven't organised their online ticket sales or published guidelines for purchase. Some interpretations mean you need to buy your ticket in advance (with no sales on matchday at the stadium) upon presentation of ID, address and maybe even an Italian tax code. This seems to us to discriminate more against the innocent (like the overseas fans who turn out in force for Italian fixtures), than the guilty. Overseas fans buying tickets online will have been used to providing their details anyway, but now it is likely that full details are required for each member of your party. If you can't buy tickets online before your trip, purchase them as soon as you arrive in Italy. Hotels can sometimes be good sources of advice. Make sure everyone in your group takes their ID (passports are best) with them when you collect your ticket, and to the football ground.
Tickets for a vast majority of games are available right up until 24 hours before kick off from the ticket windows dotted around the stadium. The only exceptions to this are the derby matches, and the games versus Juventus (although you won’t have to worry about these for a least a season or two). For games like these you will need to get your tickets either online from the club’s websites (Lazio’s are available from http://www.listicket.it and AS Roma’s from http://www.asromacalcio.it) or go to their respective shops in Piazza Colonna 360 (AS Roma) or Via Farini 34(Lazio).
As with most grounds in Italy, ticket prices range considerably. In the case of the Stadio Olimpico, the cheapest seats are in the Curva Sud and Distinti stands which are €14, whilst you will pay €60 for a place in the Tribuna Monte Mario Sud or Nord. A good bet for the neutrals is in the Tribuna Tevere, which start from €30. The Lazio Tifosi fans occupy the Curva Nord, and the Roma Fans the Curva Sud. The site http://www.footballinrome.co.uk has some excellent up to date information on the matches and ticket availability.
Around the Stadio Olimpico The whole area around the stadium was redeveloped for the 1960 Olympic games and has some fantastic public spaces, such as the Sculpture gardens and the cycling track. On a match day then the whole area around the stadium fills with food vendors and merchandise stalls. There are very few places though to sit down and eat. Be careful after a game that you don’t wander onto the roads – the scene close to the stadium resembles a massive racetrack with thousands of Romans racing away on their scooters. There is normally a high police presence as well for most games – especially the derby matches.
Rome’s main airport is more commonly referred to as Fiumicino and is located on the coast around 30km south west of the city. The main advantage of flying here rather than Ciampino is that the airport is connected to the city centre by an express train service that runs to the central station every 30 minutes with a journey time of 25 minutes. The journey will cost €9 one way. The following airlines currently fly into Fiumicino.
Air One – London City Alitalia – London Heathrow British Airways – London Gatwick and Heathrow BA Connect – Birmingham and Manchester
Ciampino airport was the main airport for the city right up until 1960 when Fiumicino opened. It is still used as a military airport but really opened its doors to civilian flights from the UK when Go, the airline that was taken over by Easyjet, flew here on their maiden flight. The airport is served by a number of bus companies who run services to the central station in around 40 minutes depending on traffic. Most of them cost €8 one-way or €13.50 return. There is also a local bus that runs regularly to Anagnina metro station for €1 where you can then take the train into the city. A taxi would cost over €40 due to the heavy traffic on this route into the city. The following airlines use Ciampino on a daily basis.
Easyjet – Bristol, East Midlands, London Gatwick and Newcastle Ryanair – East Midlands, Glasgow-Prestwick, Liverpool, London Stansted, and London Luton