On February 4, 2004, Roma and Juventus squared off at the Stadio Olimpico in Rome, while sharing the second spot in the Serie A table, to decide who between them would be Carlo Ancelotti’s Milan’s main challenger for the rest of the season.
The challenge was unsuccessful, as the Rossoneri maintained the top spot in the league and eventually captured their 16th Scudetto, but the game itself ended in a crushing victory for the Giallorossi which marked the twilight of Marcelo Lippi’s epic as Juventus coach.
Roma won 4-0, inflicting the Old Lady one of the biggest setbacks in the past two decades, with goals by Olivier Dacourt, Francesco Totti, and a double by Fantantonio Cassano – in what was one of his most shimmering performances in Giallorosso. It was also one of the last exhibitions of Fabio Capello’s Roma before Fabio Massimo would cross the Rubicon to coach exactly the much-hatred Juventini.
The game is however mostly remembered for Francesco Totti’s display of typical Italian hand gestures communication skills, by which he disposed of Igor Tudor’s verbal challenges. With the score already set at 4-0, the Capitano silenced Juventus’ defender by gently reminding him that, with his side down by four goals, protesting at a referee decision wasn’t perhaps the most useful thing to do. Totti’s feat became an instant classic of the memosphere in its early days.
The match program featured two impressive lineups, with 19 out of 22 starters having collected at least one cap with their respective national sides, two among the best coaches in the world, and a top-class referee in the person of Pierluigi Collina. It was set to be a sensational game. And so it was, even if not in the way one would expect.
The Giallorossi steered it in their direction quickly: From a corner kick by the Pupone, Olivier Dacourt aimed for Juve’s goal with a left-foot shot, but his challenge was pushed back by the defense. Two is a charm however as the French midfielder shot again, this time with his right foot, and found a string of lucky deflections that flipped the ball past Gianluigi Buffon for the first time.
It was Dacourt’s first goal with the Giallorossi and was destined to remain one of the only two he would score in Rome in three years. Call it a sign that something was definitely on Roma’s side on that night of February – even if, a few minutes later, it rather seemed that luck was turning its back on them, as a terrific right-foot volley by Totti from out of the box made Gianluigi Buffon’s woodwork rattling.
Francesco Totti would eventually make it to the scoresheet early in the second half, converting a penalty kick gained by Antonio Cassano. From the spot, Totti easily disposed of his then Nazionale teammate Buffon – who has never been famous for being a penalty-saver, if truth be told – to make it two for the Giallorossi.
The Capitano’s state of grace was exactly what it took to send Paolo Montero (one who could never keep himself quiet, especially with his team losing 0-2 to Roma) berserk. And so, in the 55th minute, Montero served the specialty of the house, a vicious tackle on Totti which earned him a direct expulsion, adding another gem to his peculiar collection of red cards (The Uruguayan collected an all-time-best 16 over the course of his quarreling Serie A career).
With Juventus forced to play with one man less for the remainder of the match and their defense in confusional state, Roma found the back of the net twice more, on both occasions with Antonio Cassano.
His second goal – a sublime header which made the best out of a cross by Amantino Mancini – prompted another iconic sketch: Cassano’s sober celebration gesture of splitting the corner flag in two with a kick, and referee Pierluigi Collina scolding him like an angry dad as he waved a yellow card at him: “Look what you’ve done!” he said, pointing at the maimed flag.
Between Fantantonio’s two gems, the Bianconeri had the chance to reduce the gap, but David Trezeguet’s penalty hit goalkeeper Ivan Pelizzoli like he was a carnival shooting target. Yes, it was one of those nights for Roma.
Nerves were tense on Juventus’ side. Igor Tudor, in particular, was among the most frantic ones, continuing to protest at Collina’s decisions despite the game being more than lost.
Until it happened. With just a bunch of minutes to go, and in the face of Tudor’s umpteenth complaint, Francesco Totti turned into his playground kid alter ego and addressed the Croatian defender with an impromptu holy trinity of gestures which gained an instant spot in the Serie A memes hall of fame. The sequence of his movements, with related explanation, was as follows:
1 – He brought a finger to his lip (The meaning is self-explanatory…)
2 – He waved four fingers repeatedly (to symbolize Roma’s four goals…)
3 – He quickly shook his hand two times (a classic Italian gesture which means “go away, go home”)
Bring it all together, and you have a pretty direct “Shut up! You got four goals. Go home.” Game, set, match. Enough said.
In conclusion, a quick note about the video embedded below, which recaps the highlights of the game. At The Cult of Calcio we always try to be impartial, but on this occasion we chose a clip whose audio is from Carlo Zampa, Roma’s official radio commentator and former speaker of the Stadio Olimpico during the Giallorossi home games.
Because, seriously, this video is a must-listen. Even if you don’t understand a word of Italian. It just shows how genuine and visceral is the passion for the Giallorossi colors in Rome, and how much this game against Juventus meant, and still means as of today, to the Roma supporters.
Juve fans will likely forgive us, as the Bianconeri also had their good share of crushing wins over the Giallorossi, including a 1-4 goal-fest two years later, embellished by a gem by Zlatan Ibrahimovic, with Fabio Capello sitting on Juventus’ bench this time.
February 4, 2004 – Serie A 2003-04 Round 20
SCORERS: 13’ Dacourt, 51′ Totti (pen.), 70′ Cassano, 85′ Cassano
|ROMA: Pelizzoli, Panucci, Zebina, Samuel, Chivu, Mancini, Emerson, Dacourt (91′ De Rossi), Lima, Totti (89′ D’Agostino), Cassano (86′ Carew) (Zotti, Candela, Tommasi, Delvecchio) Coach: Capello
|JUVENTUS: Buffon, Thuram, Legrottaglie, Montero, Zambrotta, Camoranesi (69′ Appiah), Tacchinardi, Conte (57′ Tudor), Nedved, Di Vaio (45′ Miccoli), Trezeguet (Chimenti, Ferrara, Pessotto, Maresca) Coach: Lippi|
REFEREE: Mr. Collina from Viareggio
NOTES: Yellow Cards: Samuel, Cassano (R), Conte, Camoranesi (J); Red Card: Montero (J); Extra Time: 1st Half 4′, 2nd Half 4′