Last night was the big one, the visit of Juve. The hatred goes back to 1982 when both teams were mano and mano going for the title. Juve were awarded a penalty at Catanzaro converted by Liam Brady but Fiorentina were refused one at roughly the same time at Cagliari. “Better second than a thief” was one of the striscione (banners) at Florence.
The sale of Roberto Baggio kept the rivalry boiling and the recent sale of our young Tuscan starlet Federico Bernardeschi for 50m euros ensured the hatred level in Florence of the Turin outfit was still high.
Fiorentina are a work in progress under Stefano Pioli. Many of the old guard, that were resulting in a slow but clear decline, were discarded: Katalinic went to Milan, Gonzalo retired, keeper Tetraasnu moved on and of course Bernardeschi.
In came the son of Diego Simeone from Genoa, a powerful centre forward in the Batistuta mould, Bassena from Bologna, Frenchmen Verretout and Thereau, and there are high hopes that look like being realised for the son of Enrico Chiesa, Federico.
Fiorentina are in 11th place , Juve second. It proved a lively encounter. Readers will be interested in the application of Var. Basin’s cross struck the arm of Chielini and the referee awarded a penalty.
Juve players were outraged and basically prevented Verretout from taking the penalty. After 3 minutes the referee changed his mind because of VAR. It seems that prior to the cross Bassena was offside but this was dubious as the final ball came to him from a Juve player.
My point being that intimidation by the referee is part of fabric of Italian football callled furbizia and best translated as slyness. I was pleased by the composed control Fiorentina assumed of the game after this incident.
In the second half Juve eased into command with 2 goals, the first needless to say a free kick from Bernardeschi for which our keeper Sportello was badly-positioned and then Higain, who always seems to score against us.
With our youngsters Fiorentina have potential of that there is no doubt. When I watched Juve and their use of the dark arts it occurred to me that Italian football has not moved on. Italy’s best cannot match Real Madrid, Barcelona, Bayern or PSG.
It will be interesting to see how Juve fare against Spurs in the Champions League this Tuesday.