Tuscan derbies are full of passion and fighting spirit which result in games being played out in a vigorous manner. This harks back to the days when the states and principalities which now combine to make up Italy would take to the field in a much more sinister type of combat.
There are always causalities in war, just like there are always injuries in football matches. But when Livorno’s Leandro Rinaudo flew into Giuseppe Rossi on Sunday, it did not sit well with millions of onlookers.
This was primarily because the foul seemed intentional and unnecessary, and secondly because Rossi has been one of the stars of Serie A this year and was tipped to be a main player in the World Cup in Brazil. Last but not least, many simply felt for the young man after he seemed to suffer another major setback in his injury-ridden career.
Rossi has had successive anterior cruciate ligament injuries causing him to miss over two years of his playing career, but this season, all seemed to have changed. Fiorentina have benefited from his prolific form this term and will be anxious to find out the extent of the injury.
Coach Vincenzo Montella told Sky Sport Italia (h/t Football Italia):
We are all worried about Rossi...We are above all sad for his state of mind. It’s a real shame, as the foul seemed to be intentional and the player behind it didn’t even apologise. Usually when someone commits a foul like that you say sorry, as there was no way Rinaudo was going to get that ball.
It is now unclear how long the American-born forward will be out. Football Italia reports that Rossi will be flying out to the U.S. to be treated by Dr. Richard Steadman, who will conduct more tests before releasing his verdict.
Whatever the outcome, this is still a major blow to Fiorentina, who are chasing a Champions League spot, and to the national team, who will miss him if he's not in peak form for the World Cup in Brazil.
Rossi has scored 15 goals in 19 games for Fiorentina in all competitions with four assists to go with it. He has become one of the most feared strikers in the division and has been going through a renaissance befitting of his Florentine surroundings. With Mario Gomez still sidelined through injury, this leaves the Viola with some big gaps to plug with fixtures now coming thick and fast.
Cesare Prandelli will also be nervously awaiting the results, as he had previously praised Rossi's performance for the Azzurri in November, per ESPN FC: "I was delighted with them [Rossi and Balotelli], they harmonised immediately...they combined very well numerous times." The fact that arguably the more consistent and professional of his front two could be missing for Brazil will fill him with dread.
Much more will be known in the coming weeks regarding the extent of this injury, but the trepidation likely to be felt by Montella and Prandelli combined with the heartache for fans (not just Florentine) shows what an admired professional and exciting player the little American-born striker is.