Three Short Stories of Roma-Barcelona

There is a little story behind each of the three goals that yesterday night Roma scored against Barcelona.

Kostas Manolas

22:22. Did Kostas Manolas just score? No, I can’t believe it. I look at the scoreboard three, four, five times. Roma 3, Barcelona 0. The guy who came from the Cyclades, a Greek archipelago in the middle of the Aegean Sea, runs around eyes wide open like a crazy, chased by his delirious teammates. He tries to realize that he has just scored one of the most important goals in the history of Roma, but also that he happens to be among the millions of people who just lived one of the most adrenaline moments of their lives.

But it’s not just that. The specific weight of his header marks the end of a spell that seemed to condemn a city and, in the last years, a whole country to the impossibility of a different ending. Roma most likely will not win the Champions League, we know that. However, from yesterday night all is different in Rome. Kostas knows that and, at the end of the match, he cries alone on the bench. Football is back to being football for one night. Efxaristw poli, gentle giant.

Edin Dzeko

I remember watching the sports news in January. The cameras showed Roma striker Edin Dzeko sitting at a table with his wife Amra. The club had just sold him to Chelsea but, you know, London is London, while Rome is Rome. Amra convinces Dzeko to stay, the family loves the city and Edin is just happy here. ‘Why do I have to go?’. The fact that Roma did not lose their star player in the middle of the season gave at least a hope.

After his decisive goal against Shakthar Donetsk in the round of 16, the Giallorossi lost 4-1 the first leg of the quarter-finals in Barcelona. Therefore, yesterday Roma needed a 3-0 win to advance to the semi-finals for the second time in their history. Edin scored after five minutes, putting everyone on his shoulders. He already knew that anything is possible (do you remember his Manchester City winning the Premier League with two goals in the last two minutes?) and made everybody in the stadium believe the impossible. He will fight for the entire match against Gerard Piqué and Samuel Umtiti, becoming their nightmare and our dream at the same time.

Daniele De Rossi

How can I not end with you, Daniele? I will write this last few lines talking directly to you. I must confess that I never loved you too much as a player, but nobody better than you represents what being a romanista means. Intelligent and sensitive far beyond the average football player, you live the relationship with these colors in a morbid and masochistic way, as it has to be. The more the fans criticized you, the more you wanted to demonstrate your true love for Roma and this city. The pressure was high and, sometimes, you could not handle it. But you are always there for us.

You were there also yesterday night. When the referee gave Roma a penalty for a foul on Dzeko, you came over to him and said nothing. Just an exchange of looks between two friends, a kiss on the cheek and good luck to us. Like that night in Berlin twelve years ago, when you became champion of the world. A stadium full of petrified people behind you, a short running start and the whole world looking at you.