Straight from the dark heart of Italy
The city of Genoa hasn't witnessed such carnage since the G8 summit back in 2001.
On a night of high emotion at the Marassi stadium, Genoa slapped Sampdoria into submission in one of the most one-sided derbies of all time.
You just knew that there was only going to be one winner after a couple of minutes, when Antonio Cassano was left on his posterior for the third time and looked forlornly to the Samp bench.
“I can’t play like this,” he pleaded.
“Welcome to our house,” was the collective reply from the Rossoblu contingent, who have always considered their neighbours a bunch of whiners.
Genoa had the edge and won the war even before the battle had really begun, but it wasn’t just a case of kicking anyone in blue: victory was also built around the astute tactics of Gian Pier Gasperini.
Rather than field an out-and-out striker like Hernan Crespo or Sergio Flocarri, Gasperini caught his opposite number Luigi Del Neri completely on the hop by fielding three attacking midfielders in more advanced positions.
He then ensured that each component of the team – the defence, midfield and attack – was never more than 10 metres apart.
There was no room for Cassano to turn and run at goal while Raffaele Palladino, Giuseppe Sculli and Rodrigo Palacio popped up all over the front line.
The Samp defence was stretched to breaking point and it was no surprise that the latter pair combined to set up the opener when Palacio was fouled in the area.
Even going a man down just before the break, when Giuseppe Biava received a second yellow card, failed to dampened their ardour for the scrap.
We've all heard the joke about going to a fight and a ice-hockey match breaking out, and for a time it seemed we were set for the football equivalent.
But Genoa came out for the second half and started playing the ball around as if the previous 45 minutes of battering had never occurred.
Penalty scorer Omar Milanetto set up Marco Rossi and suddenly it was 2-0 and a real humiliation was on the cards for softened-up Samp.
Milanetto may not be a name familiar to many: at 33, he has spent most of his career kicking about in the provinces and doesn't possess the physique of the modern-day footballing Dionysus.
But there cannot be a better deep-lying playmaker in Italian football at the moment.
Like an over-zealous defence lawyer he was there pleading leniency whenever the opposition demanded a card for a foul by one of his team-mates.
Along with Ivan Juric and captain Rossi, the hirsute midfielder kept the heart of the team pumping - and throughout the 90 minutes the rate never dropped below rapid.
The game was summed perfectly in the final moments: with the score 3-0 and Samp down to nine men after frustration had got the better of Marco Rossi and Fabrizio Cacciatore, one would have thought that the fires of fervour would have finally been extinguished.
The Genoa bench were either baiting Cassano or hugging each other, but Gasperini was screaming at his players on the pitch: “Don’t concede a goal, don’t concede a goal…”
Was ever a derby rival so sweetly and so brutally conquered?
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Another good advert for Italian football. Great tactically and has produced a good amount of goals too. Nice post.
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