Have you ever seen a game that can practically be defined as perfect? A game where just about everything you could have hoped for happens, where everything that can go right does go right?
You haven't? Well, then, go see Livorno-Fiorentina.
(unless you're a Livorno fan, that is...though I can't imagine there'd be many of those left.)
So, if you'll remember, I (and Viola fans in general) was still looking for a game with a wide margin of victory, a 3, 4-goal differential win. Because before yesterday, this season had given us two too many unsatisfying ties (Atalanta, Groningen), two good ties (Milan, Roma), and just 1 "good" win (Empoli). Still no blowouts, no dominant displays of force, no metaphorical slaps in the face to Serie A Top Dogs and press alike, if just to remind them "Hey there kids, we're here too."
Well, the Livorno game was a good opportunity, right? We were playing against a team with an incredibly crappy defense, a mediocre midfied/offense, and generally a team that doesn't seem to be able to gel. But we were real tired, playing with a turnover (albeit not a drastic one). The absence of Mutu was clear proof of that. Our most productive player from an offensive standpoint, our answer to Kaka', Totti, and Ibrapippovic (you have to be familiar with Italian slang to get that last one) alike. Yet he was not there. He was overfatigued. That should say something about our physical state.
Pablo Daniel Osvaldo was to play in his place, a last resort in the eyes of most skeptic onlookers. And really, I can't blame them for thinking of him as a third-stringer. It would be his first start and appearance for Fiorentina, and just his 4th appearance in Serie A. Plus, the kid's 21 years old. Even in the most optimistic of scenarios, one can't expect him to accomplish more than a decent game, maybe a reason to hope for the future. Well, ole Pablo scoffed at the prospect of being less than astounding, netting in two beautiful goals (especially the first one) and heating up the fervent imagination of Fiorentina fans.
I mean, this kid cost us 3 million euros. It was his FIRST APPEARANCE for Fiorentina. Imagine him a few games from now, pairing up with Mutu, when the Soccer Gods decide to stop picking on Pazzini.
If you're not drooling, you're not a Viola fan.
As far as the rest of the game is concerned, Fiorentina started out slow, with an aggressive Livorno preventing Gamberini and co. from breathing easy. It couldn't last, though, we all knew that. As soon as the Amaranto showed the first sign of slowing down their pace, our superior skill showed. 45th minute- perfect pass from Santana to Osvaldo, Ozzie makes an unblockable shot, while the ball was still in the air, to give the Viola the lead at halftime.
In the second half, Livorno was nowhere to be seen. Unfortunately, neither was Pazzini, whose biggest contribution to the game was getting Loviso expelled after an attempted rape at the 63-minute mark. At the 65th minute, Christian "Old but still looking to score" Vieri (yes, that can be interpreted in a couple of different ways) came on for the not-so-crazy Pazzo, who immediately tried to make his presence felt. Well, 2 minutes later Fiorentina doubled their lead, with another pinpoint assist by Santana to Plentygoals Pablo, who, with the calmness of a seasoned veteran, collected the offering and shot it over an oncoming Marco Amelia's ahead.
The Amaranto actually come close to bringing themselves within one goal of the lead, with Galante, but Santana would have none of it. As if two delectable assists weren't enough, he scored, only 2 minutes after Ozzie's second goal and 4 minutes after Vieri came in, perhaps helped by a Rezaei deflection.
From then on, it was the Christian Vieri Show. Man, does this guy want to score. Relentlessly looking to spell the last letter of R.I.P. on Livorno's game, he is merely rewarded with hitting a crossbar and one or two other good plays.
Either way, when a striker comes on for his team, and the previously slightly lethargic team scores 2 goals in 4 minutes, it's got to mean something. Vieri's entrance in a game seems to be a shot of adrenaline into the Viola's arm. His almost desperate insistence to score inspires the players around him. Maybe it's time he starts some games, in hopes that this will spark some life into Giampaolo's game, as he tries to reclaim his starting spot.
But with Ozzie-goal and Vieri on the field, somehow the goals will get scored.
Man Men of the Match: Pablo Daniel Osvaldo and Mario Santana