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Body Language: A picture worth a thousand words

A brief eulogy for 2020, and a hopeful glimpse into the future.

Dusan Vlahovic of ACF Fiorentina hugs teammates Bartolomiej Dragowski and German Pezzella following the final whistle of the Serie A match between Juventus and ACF Fiorentina at Allianz Stadium on December 22, 2020 in Turin, Italy. Photo by Jonathan Moscrop/Getty Images

At its core, soccer is an emotional sport. I’d even go as far as to argue that mentality, passion, camaraderie, and pride have just as much impact on the final score-line as sheer quantifiable skill. While it’s certainly not an accurate barometer of a team’s ability, Transfermarkt estimates the collective value of Fiorentina’s players as the 8th highest in the league – a stark contrast from our position in the table. This discrepancy has remained fairly consistent for the past few seasons; we’ve regularly boasted one of the most talented rosters not only in Serie A, but across Europe – and yet, we’ve still failed to produce results that even tease qualification into European football.

Of course, team performance is not an exact science; if that were the case, we wouldn’t be on our fifth manager of the past five years. However, one of the magical things about this sport is that we can see all of the successes and failures of a team just by looking at the players’ faces.

Hesanka shared this gem of a photo (see below) in the Highlights thread after our triumphant win over Juventus, and it immediately changed my opinion on our entire season thus far. In case you’ve already forgotten what the atmosphere felt like around here prior to Tuesday’s victory, I’d like to remind you of the cover picture Tito chose for the Lineups and Match Thread.

If you haven’t yet, I invite you to take a closer look at everything going on in this post-match team photograph; it affirms all of the emotion, love, criticism, and heartbreak that we’ve poured into this team over the lifetime of our fandom.

Just a few examples: Federico Brancolini’s emphatic victory pose in his all-black attire making it seem like he’s the spirit bursting out of Martín Cáceres, who is nonchalantly trying to hide the immense pride he must feel after an undeniably heroic performance; the dynamic trifecta of Dušan, Biraghi, and old man Ribéry atop the dogpile reveling in triumph just minutes after each of them took turns re-igniting the long-lost fire of this team; the unavoidably contagious and beaming smile of an older Borja Valero than we remember, but has returned home to remind us that all of our blood runs purple.

Most profound though, is our two captains sitting together on that white table up front – the friendly smile of Davide Astori’s spirit as visible as ever behind Germán Pezzella’s iconic armband.

For the past couple of years, Fiorentina’s body language has been embodied by a certain unnamed player that may have taken part in Tuesday’s activities wearing a rather unbecoming black-and-white jersey. While his electricity and unquestionable talent are surely missed, it really feels like we’re ushering in a new era here. Sure, sure, this may sound premature (especially while we sit at 14th in the league table), but the slightest bit of redemption in 2020 has my excitement fully renewed. I haven’t seen smiles like this since the last time the Mayor wore a purple jersey.

I love this community because of the love we share for this team and for each other, and this is what brings it all home. This year has surely been hell for everyone here, but I hope you all can reciprocate even a fraction of the joy captured in this post-victory photograph, even amid what has otherwise been a less-than-stellar campaign. Here’s hoping we can carry this excitement into the new year, and that we can really start feeling the emotion of another Prandelli-led Fiorentina squad that we fondly remember.

Let us know your favorite part of that picture – I know Igor got a lot of love in the original thread (and deservedly so). Stay safe everyone, and much love to you all. Buon Natale to those who celebrate, and Forza Viola!