It's the little things that you crave when you are a fan so far removed from the heartbeat of the club, let alone your fellow fans. So getting to sit down with beers and rant about FIGC conspiracy theories with Bill4, or celebrate a couple walking in front of us on the way to the stadium clad in Toni and Rigano jerseys (Rigano!)... Well it was rather perfect.
A small group of those of us going to the Fiorentina - Paris Saint-Germaine match had planned on grabbing drinks before the game at O'Donnell's Pub, but they were bizarrely not open until 8 p.m. So instead we ended up at The Green Room, which quickly filled with soccer fans - mostly Viola - as kick off neared.
Tomas500 and Bill4 managed to join me down in the lower level as there were free seats near me, and we just soaked it in. I wish I had thought to get a good picture of Joaquin after his goal... We did have maybe the best seats in the house to appreciate the bend he put on that strike.
In terms of the game itself, Matias Vecino and Giuseppe Rossi most impressed me live, although Federico Bernardeschi and Borja Valero also looked sharp when they came on in the second half. Ahmed Hegazi had a good 20 minutes before looking very slow for both first-half PSG goals. The French club were clearly ahead in their conditioning, but also boasted some raw athletic talent which we couldn't keep up with in transition.
The people behind us were talkative southern Italian Jerseyites, often trying to figure out who was who, and asking a load of questions about Diakhate in particular. They didn't seem to like backwards passes.
The best part about the whole experience was staying afterwards as the stadium emptied out. Fiorentina are in the midst of their conditioning for the season, so the players returning from injury (including Giuseppe Rossi) were made to do more work after the match.
Luigi Sepe and Luca Lezzerini were made to practice after as well, with Borja Valero volunteering to work them, and then taking on extra conditioning and stretching after that. Paulo Sousa was also out for long after the match, prowling and watching his players and signing autographs.
I almost definitely embarrassed Bill by shouting down at Borja "sei un grande" which he acknowledged with a wave. Sousa also nodded to my shout to "Paulo make us great again" ... Did I mention we had beers?
Anyways, the stewards frustratingly kept us farther from the field as time went on, but Rossi spent a lot of time with his hometown fans, although a lot of people were clearly hanging around hoping to grab another glimpse of Zlatan Ibrahimovic.
The wait for the PATH train after leaving the stadium was excruciating, we lost, and no crazy "I met Babacar and he said he liked my shirt" type stuff happened. But that's not important. We got to see Rossi and Joaquin score, got to be angry at the referee, and bonded with purple clad brethren. Solid 9/10. Would do again.
Holler at us in the comments if you were there too! I didn't forget you Puma!