Cup finals, water polo and Cassano's underpants

It's Lazio against Sampdoria in the Italian Cup final – which makes a pleasant change from the last four seasons, when it was Inter against AS Roma again, again and again.

In fact, Lazio were the last club to lift the trophy before that, back in 2004, and will start as slight favourites – not least because the final will be played in the Stadio Olimpico in Rome.

The domestic cup has always been something of a poor cousin: a two-legged final tagged on at the end of the campaign, with the rounds up to the semi-finals being populated by bench-warmers and youth players.

Last season the two-legged affair was jettisoned and the final got its very own showcase day in the capital.

Fortunately for the League, Roma reached the final (again), thus ensuring a sell-out crowd at the Olimpico. This time around it's their city rivals.

The Stadio Olimpico: in Rome

It has all the makings of a mini-classic: a rare chance of lifting a trophy, a European spot up for grabs, two sides who love to attack, a smattering of real quality (Mauro Zarate, Goran Pandev) and, of course, Antonio Cassano.

It's hard to believe, but the only piece of silverware the Bari Bawler has ever got his hands on is the Italian Super Cup – calcio’s Charity Shield.

He was part of Real Madrid’s title-winning squad in 2007, but did he play enough games to merit a medal? Do they even hand out medals in Spain to the league winners?

Cassano’s return to the arena where he played his best football adds spice to this pot-boiler.

Lazio fans will be out to wind up the former Roma player no end, in the hope that the notorious on-field stripper throws a complete wobbly – as he did in the 2003 final against Milan.

In those days Cassano had a temper hotter than a plate of penne arrabbiata but he's to give anyone indigestion on Wednesday evening with his antics of old – unless it's flashing those unsightly white underpants.

The little genius has been in genial form of late: trying to cuddle up to Jose Mourinho at the end of the semi-final – in his pants, naturally – but still very much in love with his teenage waterpolo-playing beau and, at nearly 27, knowing that time is slipping away if he is to truly make his mark on the game.

"How d'you like them apples?"

An Italian Cup medal may not have the same kudos as a Serie A title or a Champions League win, but for Fantantonio it would finally be the first step away from the road of all lost mavericks.

And you never know, maybe even Marcelo Lippi will start viewing the wayward star in a new light.

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