Grudges and conspiracies live long in the Florentine soul. Perhaps it is to do with the historic rivalry of the Guelphs and Ghibellines. Nowhere is this more apparent than in the rivalry of Juventus who are derided as ” gobbi” (hunchbacks). This hatred is based on 3 factors: the sale to them of Roberto Baggio, the decision to make Fiorentina play their home games in Avellino after crowd trouble in the UEFA final we contested with Juve in 1990 and the perceived injustice of the 1982 season. That scudetto went to the last round of games with Juventus first and Viola second. Juventus playing at Catanzaro were awarded a late penalty converted by Liam Brady whilst Fiorentina were denied one at Cagliari. This led to the accusation of “scudetto rubato” (stolen championship) and the famous banner ” meglio secondo che un ladro” (better second than a thief) .
The issue of prejudiced refereeing came up in last night’s match against Juventus which we lost 3-2. Coach Vincenzo Montella seems to have given up on the League to concentrate on the Europa League. Fiorentina have drawn Seville in the semi-finals so we are three games away from winning the trophy and qualifying for the Champions League. Napoli are still in the tournament and would be the biggest block.
Fiorentina started well and were awarded a penalty when Joaquín was tripped by Pirlo. I watched the game on tv and it was clear that after the foul Pirlo stepped outside the box, threw up his arms in disbelief, and contested the decision. This unsettled the referee. So when our keeper Neto had a rush of blood to his head and came well outside his box to intercept but he clearly did not even touch the Juventus forward who went down. Llorente headed home Pirlo’s free kick. Cheating had prospered. Tevez added a second with his head with Neto caught in no man’s land.
The decisive point came in the second half when Joaquín was upended again. Gonzalo, the Fiorentina captain, chose to blast, as he did with first, but sliced wide. Tevez made it 3-1 with a trademark angled shot but Ilacic scored late from a free kick and it ended 3-2. Fiorentina fans will curse the free kick that never was but, to be fair, if Gonzalo had converted the penalty we would have the draw we deserved.