Thursday, March 13, 2008

Jinxing Fiorentina

Fiorentina were absolutely awful last night (apart from the saintly Sebastian Frey, whose brain fart on the first goal was made up for in triplicate in the subsequent hours and hours and hours of play). Dario Dainelli did a jaw-droppingly good impression of an old-time English centerback, booting the ball into Row Z every time he got anywhere near it. Midfield anchors Zdravko Kuzmanovińá and Marco Donadel vanished simultaneously, while Riccardo Montolivo went back into the months-long slumber after a tantalizing, two-match awakening. And Bobo. Oh, Bobo. Bobo was old.

But they survived. They played football that was only marginally more stylish that the herdball preferred by most four-year olds, but they did it together, and they got it done. Not only that, but they fouled the hell out of Everton in the second half which, in a way, was encouraging -- there were worries going into the tie that Everton's "physical style" would cause Fiorentina problems, and it undeniably did, but for stretches, this lightweight, underage team of clever passers gave as good as they got.

They battled their way to PKs and, thanks to Frey, the post, and their own belief, they're into the last eight. [In their two UEFA Cup matches that have ended in penalties, La Viola have converted eight of the nine spotkicks. (She said, knocking frantically on wood and throwing salt over both shoulders.)]

There's no coach in Europe who deserves silverware more than Cesare Prandelli, the man who's taught them how to play (sometimes, you can actually see his training sessions in the way they move the ball) and convinced them to believe, even as his personal life is putting him through hell.

And Mutu could be back for Napoli, on Wednesday.

I don't want to go around jinxing people or anything, but this could happen. It'd take some luck, and some ugliness, and a whole lot of cooperation from the universe, but it really could happen.

I think I need to go lie down.


ursus arctos said...

There is a question that has been bugging me for a while, and this seems like as good a place to ask it as any.

So, if Inter and the Viola were both drowning, which one would you choose?

Martha said...

As I've learned through the agony of head-to-head meetings, it would definitely be Inter I'd be dragging out of the water. (And, also, Bobo. If that's allowed.) When the Viola drown, though, I will instantly become an (ever more) dour football fan.

Because Inter are Inter, and therefore always expected to win, so there are never any good surprises. I'm at the point where I watch matches with a feeling of dread, constantly waiting for something to go horribly wrong. Fiorentina, on the other hands, are still underdogs, so I go into their big matches will all kinds of hope. If they win, fantastic! If they lose, well, everyone knows they've got a ways to go yet, so it's ok.

[And, yes, I'll print this out and take it with me the moment I go into therapy.]

ursus arctos said...

That's what I would have guessed, but better to be sure.

I am, of course, the exact opposite, which is why my nine year old Interista son "refuses to allow" me to go to matches against the Viola unless I abide by his code of conduct (which includes not wearing purple, not celebrating goals, and other things I can't really agree to).

Spangles and others have accused me of going beyond the allowed bounds of a "simpatizzante" and entering the world of Inter "tifoso"-dom, but I think my lapses have been at best episodic.

Needless to say, as one with an intrinsic historic perspective the juxtaposition of "Inter" and "always expected to win" is jarring. 'Twas not always so, quite the opposite. And I have to admit that some of the constant media potshots have gotten under my skin this season (whereas their Juve-targetted predecessors were of course always eminently justified and in fact much too restrained in their force and number).

Martha said...

I'm surprised and pleased to hear that about you and La Viola, Ursus! (Now we just need to make sure we're both around when they simultaneously fall into quicksand/step in a bear trap/threaten to drown.) And Fiorentina looked spectacular Sunday. Watching how they play with Mutu on the pitch I remember exactly why I was so pessimistic about their chances of survival when he went down.

I thought about history when I typed that about Inter and expectations, I really did. And while I know, intellectually, that this is a very recent phenomenon, that knowledge doesn't help when I'm busy letting the media push my buttons. (I'm glad you have the same problem, at least. Misery loving company and all that.)