Sampdoria v Fiorentina: Totally Effing InsaneBy: Martha | December 16th, 2007
That refers to both the match and Antonio Cassano, but mostly to Cassano, who had a meltdown of truly spectacular proportions when he got a card (for dissent, of course) and realized he would be suspended for the Roma match next weekend. It was so bad it was actually almost impossible to watch — there was screaming, crying, and kneeling on the ground and pounding it with his fist. Seriously.
It was really, really not the behavior of a sane person. No one on his team could calm him down, but somehow his boy Bobo (who has surely had the “Calm the fuck down” conversation with Cassano more times than he can count) and, oddly, Adrian Mutu, got him a bit under control, and he made it through the half before he seemed to start crying again. I mean, I know football is Cassano’s life, and playing Roma is probably something he’s been looking forward to all season but you just cannot act like that at your freaking job. Or, really, in anywhere in life, if you’re older than eight. (And if there was still any question whether he should be allowed anywhere near the Azzurri, I hope to hell the answered it. I don’t care how many goals he scores, he needs to stay far away from the national team.)
Ahem. So you can see why it was a bit hard to concentrate on the game, periodically spectacular thought it was. It opened familiarly for Fiorentina supporters: Nice spells of possession that ground to a halt every time it got near the box and never threatened the opposing goal. And then it got worse, because Cassano smartly got to the touchline and played back a shot-cum-cross that was spilled by Cristiano Lupatelli (AKA That One What’s Not Sebastian Frey) and then ended up in the back of the net when he was nutmegged by the opportunistic Daniele Gastaldello, who pounced on the rebound. Life without Frey was looking grim, and it had only been going on or 19 minutes. Then, shortly thereafter, Lupatelli tried to make up for his shortcoming by flying out of the box to clear a long ball, but suceeded only in nearly killing Tomas Ujfalusi (who was playing in the middle of the makeshift Viola backline). Not pretty.
Despite the temptation to throw up their hands and punt on the remaining games before the break, Fiorentina stuck with it and had some good moments going forward (Bobo! Getting past someone on the wing, and playing in a good cross!). They eventually tied the match five minutes before the half, when Riccardo Montolivo — who looked tougher than he has in a while but also seemed to pick up an injury — chipped a ball forward for Mutu, who pushed it past Luca Castellazzi for his first goal in ages. Mutu almost grabbed the lead for the Viola at the death, clanging a free kick onto the post, but it remained 1-1 at half, with Cassano in tears yet again.
The second half was pretty even at the start (no more crying from either team), but neither really threatened until Fiorentina made a goal of a semi-cleared corner, when substitute Marco Donadel popped up and ripped a shot home from the corner of the box. And it was at this point that the game went completely insane. First, Lupatelli channeled his inner Frey and made a completely impossible save on a point-blank header from Claudio Bellucci, and then Castellazzi did the same in the other goal, getting down well to push a Vieri header past the base of the post. To thank Catellazzi for his brilliance, his team went to the other end and tied the score: A deflected pass somehow got over Martin Jorgensen’s head to that of the tiny Cassano lurking behind him, and the crazy person looped a header over Lupatelli to tie the score; he was substituted shortly thereafter and spend the rest of the match shaking his head, talking to the one member of the Samp staff who seemed able to calm him down a bit at halftime.
I’m sure it wasn’t this way in reality, but it seemed like the last 10 minutes were pretty much spent in the Fiorentina box, and consist of corners, dangerous crosses, the ball bouncing around in the box, and Lupatelli making a string of impossible, heroic saves. Based on their pressure, Sampdoria might feel they deserved the three points, but Fiorentina’s cobbled together defense stood firm, and they’re probably very happy to be leaving Genoa with a point.
[Thanks to Chris for finding the video.]