Rome derby success has made Rudi Garcia "a real Romanista" according to the coach after he tasted the game's unique atmosphere for the first time in AS Roma's 2-0 success against SS Lazio.
Sunday's 'home' victory at the Stadio Olimpico made it four wins from four in Serie A for the Giallorossi. Goals from Federico Balzaretti and Adem Ljajić gained sweet revenge for Roma's 1-0 Coppa Italia final defeat in May, which Lazio fans still celebrate with a 71st-minute ovation at every match to mark the time of Senad Lulić's winner.
"Before the game I told my players that you don't play derbies, you win them," Garcia said, immediately grasping the exceptional nature of the fixture. "The emotion of winning this match and watching the players celebrate with our supporters is just magic. I want to tell the fans that now I feel one of them, a real Romanista."
The 49-year-old Frenchman was appointed in the summer by a Roma side that had failed to qualify for Europe. He has made an immediate impact, with the team scoring ten and conceding just one in four league outings – though they had to be on their guard against Lazio. "We have been even more patient than usual today," the former LOSC Lille boss said. "We defended well as a team when needed, and struck when Lazio were a bit tired."
Emotions ran high for the players too, especially goalscorer Balzaretti who broke into tears after volleying the opener on 63 minutes. "I felt such incredible joy," said the 31-year-old left-back following his first goal for the club. "It is not something that happens every day. I tend to score once every four years, so to do it in the derby was amazing. So much went through my head at that moment." Ljajić sealed the points four minutes into stoppage time.
The defender drew praise from his coach, who signalled that Balzaretti will play a key role as Roma look to push on from their outstanding start. "My football philosophy is simple: I want my team to always attack and try to score one more goal than the opposition," Garcia said. "Full-backs are very important for this kind of football with their runs. They always have to push forward as Balzaretti did today – I am delighted for him. I think his goal is symbolic of the way we want to play and win."
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