“Gufare.” There is no better, typically Italian verb, to express the sublime pleasure football fans from the Belpaese feel, when genuinely wishing the worst to their rivals. Indeed, former Roma legend Francesco Totti performed a top-class “gufata” yesterday during the Champions League quarterfinals draw.
The Capitano was caught by cameras wishing longtime rivals Juventus to be paired with Real Madrid – just seconds before the seeding pots actually confirmed a new showdown between the Bianconeri and the Spanish powerhouse.
Gufare literally means “to owl,” or “to hoot like an owl.” In Italian folklore, owls are traditionally viewed as harbingers of bad luck. Therefore, a gufata is the act of casting bad luck over the chosen victim – most often your rival football club.
The Italian art of gufare is so subtle and elaborate, that can assume multiple and even contrasting forms: You may be saying something aloud, while what you are wishing is exactly the opposite. Therefore, the next time your Italian friend who happen to root for some different colors than yours, comes to you and say “Man, I think you guys are really going to win today,” watch out – it may be a very well-disguised gufata!
But Francesco Totti is a genuine lad, and his kind of instant sorcery was the one where what you say is exactly what you wish to happen. The 8th King of Rome was in Nyon together with Roma’s director of football Monchi yesterday, to also know the Giallorossi’s opponents in the next Champions League round, after having secured their spot among the elite eight clubs of Europe for the first time in 10 years.
“Real”, Totti could be seen whispering to Monchi, just as Andriy Shevchenko’s hand was picking up Juve’s opponent from the seeding pots. “Real”, he repeated confidently, and the prophecy promptly fulfilled. Juventus will play Real Madrid in a rematch of last year’s Champions League Final, which saw the Blancos trashing Massimiliano Allegri’s troops 4-1 to capture their third cup in four years.
Gianluigi Buffon’s look in the below picture, which the Bianconeri (unconsciously?) put on their website to announce the draw outcome, shows exactly how they must be feeling in Turin at the thought of facing again the incumbent European Champions. On the other hand, look at the smiles on Cristiano Ronaldo and Sergio Ramos’ faces…
This is indeed not the first scherzetto (“little joke”) that Totti plays at his rivals of a lifetime: Back in August last year, during the group stage seeding ceremony, the Pupone was among the former football starts chosen to pick up the balls. His smile, and the look he gave at his friend Buffon after placing Barcelona in the same group of the Bianconeri was worth the time spent watching the ceremony.
Not that the quarterfinals seeding had a much better outcome for Totti and Roma. That same Barcelona the Capitano delivered to Juventus in the first round, will now be the Giallorossi’s opponent for their Round of Eight playoff – and the last time the two clubs met, in the 2015-16 Group Stage, it was an overwhelming 6-1 win for the Azulgrana.
But one would wish that Roma makes it past this stage as well, if only to see what an incomparably entertaining Francesco Totti is going to do in the next seeding ceremony…