Flags of our fathers: why Genoa vs Sampdoria is more than a game

On first impressions, the Genoese derby seems like many others in Italy: violent. “Kill them, kill them,” sing the Genoa fans. “Genoa, Genoa, vaffanculo” – “F**k off, Genoa” comes the reply from their Sampdoria counterparts. Throw in the fact that it’s still an hour and a half until kick-off on a freezing cold December evening and the port city’s Stadio Comunale Luigi Ferraris is already full to 36,536 capacity, and it’s enough to make FourFourTwo wonder what calibre of lunatic we’re in the company of.

But in the Derby della Lanterna (the ‘Derby of the Lantern’), everything is not at it seems. Nearly an hour later, the volume inside the ground goes up several decibels as the Samp keeper Luca Castellazzi comes out for his warm-up. The Samp fans on the South Stand break into their anthem, a catchy 1975 pop song by the late singer-songwriter Rino Gaetano called Ma il cielo e sempre piu blu – ‘But the sky gets bluer and bluer’ – a hymn to eternal optimism and a nod to the colour of Samp’s shirt. Now both teams are out warming up and the noise is deafening. As Samp go through their stretches, Antonio Cassano gestures to the South Stand to raise the roof. 

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