Straight from the dark heart of Italy
"Ladri, ladri, ladri" ["Thieves, thieves, thieves"], the Fiorentina fans forlornly chanted as the Bayern Munich players took their bow in front of their travelling support.
Of course, the Florentine faithful were venting their frustrations at the pivotal moment in the first leg in Germany - and Miroslav Klose’s second goal, which was never in need of technology to demonstrate that it was offside. Their anger stemmed from witnessing their Champions League quarter-finals dreams taken away in what they believed to be criminal fashion.
That preposterous Klose goal - click to watch
But this time around it was the Viola who were guilty of leaving their defence unlocked and allowing Arjen Robben to tiptoe through to fire home a stunning shot for turned out to be the decisive second goal. At that stage, with the score 3-2 in Fiorentina’s favour, another home goal would in theory have sealed their passage into the next round, just as it had been when it was 1-0 and 3-1.
However, even with just over 25 minutes or so to play, the feeling – even watching the game on television hundreds of kilometres from frigid Florence – was that the temperature had dropped so much on the pitch that there was little sign of life left for a rousing finale.
It's not that Cesare Prandelli’s men can really feel hard done by on this occasion even if they did hold on to win, which was of course was no consolation whatsoever. The harsh reality was that they could not preserve to their overall advantage, but then it was always going to be a big ask for a team that had lost its focus since the turn of the year and Adrian Mutu’s positive drugs test.
The heroes of the past such as Roberto Baggio and Gabriel Batistuta had been evoked on banners around the Artemio Franchi stadium before kick-off. However, the weight of expectation was too much for less experienced shoulders on show - and in a way it was an end of another era in the up-and-down history of the club.
Prandelli will be on his way in the summer, with his most likely destination just up the road to Coverciano to become national team coach.
Stevan Jovetic’s brace on the night, coupled with his match-winning performance against Liverpool in the groups, will have Europe’s top teams beating a way to his door this summer - and with the prospect of no European football next season the club will have no option but to sell their major asset.
Sebastien Frey is also likely to be allowed to move on as the club look to regain some financial stability and rebuild once more from the rubble of a mid-table position.
Mutu is all but finished and even if his ban only extends until the end of the season the Romanian’s stock has fallen so far that he will probably be playing out his days in desert climes.
But for now, there is an ill wind blowing through the Renaissance city and it is being wafted on more than grievances over refereeing decisions.
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