Posts tagged Fiorentina
Posts tagged Fiorentina
2006/07 Fiorentina 2-3 Inter
‘Opening day delight for Cambiasso’
The beautiful city of Florence may hold a plethora of delights for most visitors but for Inter this is not the case. Whilst tourists revel in the opulent renaissance city, drinking by the River Arno or strolling through the Boboli gardens, the Nerazzurri have had a much more Machiavellian experience.
Wins (or even draws) have been hard to come by over the last 20 year. Thus, when the Milanese giants found out that they would be facing a Viola team consisting of players like Adrian Mutu, Giampaolo Pazzini and Luca Toni on the opening day, this did not instil confidence.
Inter were not short of quality and with Adriano, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Patrick Vieira and Luis Figo surrounding the embryo of the 2010 treble winning team, the game promised much.
A warm Tuscan evening in the Stadio Artemio Franchi provided an ideal setting for the match to take place. Inter started the match quickly and soon had a hold on the match. Maicon powered down the right hand side after only 11 minutes. His ball into the box found Ibrahimovic who waited until the last possible moment before knocking the ball wide to Esteban Cambiasso who drove low past Sebastien Frey.
Fiorentina responded well as Mutu hit the post but Inter were desperate to take hold of the game and on the 41st minute they doubled their lead. Amazingly it was Cambiasso again, unmarked at the far post he headed in a cross from Hernan Crespo. The Argentine celebrating with a look of disbelief on his face, a feeling shared by his team mates.
The second half started as the first had left off with the Nerazzurri pressing high and creating most of the chances. The third came on the on the 61st and once again involved Cambiasso. His delectable through ball was lobbed over the Florentine defence, it fell perfectly to the feet of Ibrahimovic who rifled home a powerful volley passed a despairing Frey in the Viola goal.
Inter looked home and dry and the season was looking bright as Inter continued to press. A mistake by Maicon on the right hand side seven minutes later however, saw Manuele Blasi whip in a cross for Luca Toni to head home from close range. The Milanese had switched off but there was no time for a comeback, was there?
The Nerazzurri obviously did not anticipate a late Viola surge and the defending began to seem laboured. Luca Toni nearly scored with a superb scissor kick moments later and the warning signs were there.
With eleven minutes still to play Reginaldo powered down the left and swung in a low ball that was met powerfully by the head of Luca Toni once again. This sent shock waves through everybody representing Inter as there was still time on the clock and Fiorentina were in the ascendency.
Despite the late lapse at the back the Nerazzurri had done enough in the first half to secure the victory, although once again the trip to Florence had be fraught with danger. Thanks to Cambiasso the opening day had been a success and Inter would go on to win the Scudetto. Fiorentina finished a respectable sixth due to their indomitable spirit and persistence.
2006/07 Fiorentina 2-3 Inter
By Richard Hall @Gentleman_Ultra
Worn by players such as Manuel Rui Costa, Jörg Heinrich, Moreno Torricelli, Tomáš Repka and Gabriel Batistuta.
Fact - Manuel Rui Costa was supplying Gabriel Batistuta at one end and there was a defence that included Tomáš Repka, Moreno Torricelli and goalkeeper Francesco Toldo.
Fiorentina were a formidable force back to front so it was no surprise the 1998-1999 campaign was one of Fiorentina’s most successful in recent times. Leading the Serie A title race most of the season, they failed to hang on and their title. They fell to pieces, losing out to AC Milan and finishing third and qualifying for the Champions League behind Lazio who also managed to leapfrog the Tuscans.
Journalist, author, TV Pundit, podcast host, European Football expert and all round nice guy Gabriele Marcotti, very kindly took some time out to talk to me, about the upcoming Serie A season.
The season seemed some distance away, this being July but I still wanted to know Gabriele’s initial thoughts as to how the season in Italy could pan out. Speaking about the summers events I shamefully asked Gabriele for his predictions.
(Richard) Antonio Conte has walked away from Juventus and Massimiliano Allegri has arrived. Do you think Juventus’s domination of Serie A will suffer because of this, or will it be business as usual?
(Gabriele) I’m answering these questions in late July and as we’ve seen in the past A LOT can happen at the end of the calciomercato. So take that as a caveat. But in general I think Conte is a big loss. Juve still probably have the best squad (either with Vidal or - if Vidal goes - with whoever they bring in) but there will inevitably be a drop off with Allegri. His time at Milan was more successful than people realize, but there’s a big difference between coming in after a so-so year and following a guy like Conte with his three straight. Juve are still the team to beat, but Conte is a massive loss and I think it will be a lot tighter this year.
(Richard) Both Milan clubs has a torrid time of it last season for their lofty standards. Who do you think is best equipped to deal with the new season?
(Gabriele) I find both Milan and Inter very tough to read at this time. I might suggest Inter are marginally better off simply because they have solid ownership and with Mazzarri you know what you get. (Which may not be great, but at least there’s a solidity there). That said, there seems to be a huge amount of confusion — do you really want Vidic to learn a back three at his age? But Milan is a roll of the dice. It has been a bad summer. The treatment of Balotelli, the way Seedorf was ditched, the fact that the Galliani-Barbara issue remains unresolved… it just feels like the medium-term is dire and even a good season this year won’t change the facts. You either go with youth or you try to win now. You can repackage Menez and Alex all you like, but they are what they are. Are the guys you really needed or do they just eat up minutes that could otherwise go to youngster you want to develop? Inzaghi worked with a lot of the kids and some of them do look really good (Cristante and Mastour above all) but will he get a chance to play them? And if and when Galliani finally goes - this is one situation where I think the Ultras are correct - what will it mean for Inzaghi? Too many questions and it’s sad to see Milan - long one of the best-run clubs in Serie A - in this situation.
(Richard) Palermo, Cesena and Empoli have arrived in Serie A this term. Do you think that any of these teams has a good chance of surviving in the division after this season?
(Gabriele) Palermo are clearly on a different level from the other two in terms of size of club and budgets. They have a very good shot at staying up. Empoli and Cesena will struggle, I get the impression (and again, as I write this, there’s plenty of mercato to go) that Empoli will push kids and Cesena look for value signings.
(Richard) Last year ended with the unfortunate scenes in the Coppa Italia final between Napoli and Fiorentina. In your opinion, was this a one off incident caused by an individual and is Serie A in a better place than in recent years?
(Gabriele) I think we hit rockbottom some years ago and we’re in the long, slow climb back. I really do. Despite the many media members, FA executives and politicians who tried to use what happened for their own ends, we do know there WAS NO negotiation with the Napoli Ultras. And the shooter was already a pariah among the mainstream Roma curva as, frankly, any Ultra would be who would consider carrying a firearm. I look at the reaction and I’m not sure it would have been so vehement a decade ago. I see it as a positive though, obviously, the incident itself and the shooting were dreadful. But it was precisely because it was so rare and so unusual that it got so much attention.
(Richard) Zdenek Zeman is at the helm at Cagliari. Do you think this is an exciting new dawn for the club? Or is Zeman tactically outdated now in his approach?
(Gabriele) I wouldn’t describe Zeman as outdated because it implies his football is obsolete because others have got wise to it. That’s not the case for the simple reason that nobody else plays that way so there is nothing to get wise to. I do wonder though to what degree it’s sustainable for an entire season. And whether the new Cagliari owner is simply looking for a cheap publicity stunt
(Richard) Juventus disappointed in Europe last year by their own admission. Do you think any of the Serie A representatives stand a chance of succeeding in Europe this year?
(Gabriele) Sure. Once you’re in the round of 16, anything can happen. Rafa Benitez remains one of the best in a two-legged knockout format. And Napoli were unlucky last year. Roma are deeper and more talented. And I think Juve too are due.
(Richard) Who do you think has made the greatest step forward in this year’s Calciomercato so far?
(Gabriele) It’s way, way early of course. But Roma are squarely ahead right now I think. Iturbe and Astori are instant upgrades, Keita can provide veteran leadership and Cole will be good for another season or two.
(Richard) The usual rumours of Stadium development are resurfacing again (most notably Roma and Udinese). Until this happens can you see Italian Football ever really making a comeback to sit amongst Europe’s better marketed leagues?
(Gabriele) It will help to some degree, but I don’t think it’s as essential as people make out. A modern stadium can be more inviting and boost attendances and generate more money. And in some cities it would provide a much-needed boost. Certainly it’s absurd that in places where they want to build one there are bureaucratic hurdle through which they need to jump. But I don’t think it’s the be-all and end-all. And sometimes there are other, non-football interests pushing the “stadium-at-all-costs” mentality.
(Richard) What is the overall health of Serie A at present in your opinion?
CLASSIC CALCIO KITS: FIORENTINA 1992-93
A chance to look back at some of the iconic strips from when Italian Football was admired by all.
First up Fiorentina home: 92-93
Make - Lotto
Sponsor - 7up
Worn by players such as Batistuta, Brian Laudrup, Effenberg, Baiano and Caranascial.
Fact: Batistuta scored 16 times in the 1992-93 season
When Calcio Ruled The World: Francesco Toldo
When a young 19 year old Francesco Toldo turned up in the bright lights of Milan in 1990, it was to sign his first professional contract. He thought he had hit the big time, however, in a three year spell; Toldo would fail to make single appearances for the Rossoneri.
Although the rookie keeper failed to turn out for Milan, he did have two successful loan spells, firstly at Trento and then at Ravenna. It was at the end of this loan spell at Ravenna, that Toldo’s career would take off as he headed to Tuscany to join Fiorentina. It was here Toldo would make his name racking up over 250 appearances for La Viola in eight years.
He was a firm fans favourite with his impressive displays and he would get his first taste of silverware in Florence, winning two Coppa Italia’s and even getting a taste of Champions League football.
Toldo was one of the stand out goalkeepers in Serie A; however, his chances were limited on the international scene as Gianluigi Buffon was Italy’s first choice. However in the summer of 2000 the world and the rest of Europe would witness Toldo’s talents as injury forced Buffon to sit out Euro 2000 giving Toldo his chance. He didn’t disappoint either, with some breath taking displays, in particular in the Semi-Final penalty shootout win over the Netherlands.
Fiorentina were facing financial ruin heading into 2001 and Toldo along with team mate Rui Costa were all set to join Parma in a deal worth 140 billion lire. Both players to everyone’s surprise refused to join the Gialloblu. Toldo instead would opt to head back to Milan but this time to join AC’s city rivals Inter.
Toldo’s time at Inter would be very different to his time at Milan as he spent nine seasons at the Nerazzurri making close to 150 appearances. The Inter faithful took to Toldo straight away as he put in some impressive and solid displays.
However things would sour at Inter when Toldo decided to sit out Inters 2005 preseason tour of England. This prompted them to snap up Brazilian international Júlio César who would become first choice dropping Toldo to the bench. He briefly regained his number one jersey in 2006 after some poor performances from César.
Toldo’s Inter and football career couldn’t have ended any better, he may have been back up to César all season but in 2010 Toldo was part of that famous Inter team to win the treble.
When Calcio Ruled The World Francesco Toldo was dominating his penalty area keeping some of the world’s best at bay.
By Giovanni Dougall
Classic Calcio Match: Napoli - Fiorentina 10th May 1987
The wait was almost over, would the Serie A title finally be taken away from the Superpowers of the north and proudly be presented to the so called poor boys of the south.
There was a carnival atmosphere inside the Stadio San Paolo. Napoli knew only a point was needed against Fiorentina to clinch their first ever Scudetto in the clubs history. However, with Fiorentina boasting talent like a young Roberto Baggio this wasn’t going to be a foregone conclusion.
Smoke billowing out from the packed San Paolo stands, explosions with fire crackers could be heard ringing around the stadium, it was an incredible sight to behold, you’d think the Partenopei faithful had already won Serie A but with only 2 games to go and only needing a point they had every right to be confident especially with Diego Maradona in their ranks.
The fans confidence clearly rubbed off on the players as the showed few nerves. With so much at steak Napoli looked to their main man. Maradona was pulling the strings as he had done all season he was creating chances out of nothing. La Viola just couldn’t get the ball off him as the Neapolians pressed and pushed forward.
On 29 minutes Maradona was at the heart of a masterful move as he played a beautiful pass to the feet of Giordano, he would lay off his strike partner Carnevale to slide home. The San Paolo erupted like Vesuvius itself, the noise deafening, they could feel it now, touch it almost, the Scudetto was coming south. Or was it? Fiorentina had settled now and Napoli had taken their foot off the gas after that goal.
Fiorentina were starting to look a bit more threatening and were awarded a free kick to the left of the 18 yard box. A fresh faced Roberto Baggio stood over the ball, striking it right footed he almost passed it past Claudio Garella in the Napoli goal, really poor goalkeeping and he knew it.
Baggio had silenced the San Paolo just 10 minutes after it went wild. The game was tied at 1-1 and that’s how the first half would end.
If Napoli could get through the second half without concealing the title was going South.
As the second half got underway the noise was just incredible with more smoke rising from the stands. Thousands of blue and white flags were waving in the Neapolitan sunshine, the fans were certainly doing their bit to help Maradona and co over the finish line. This was the longest 45 minutes in existence for any Neapolitan, not just in the stadium but for the rest of the city, sat by their radios in cafés, or packed round a tiny TV set.
Every time the young talented Baggio got the ball you knew he was capable of something, he threatened but each time Napoli managed to keep him at bay being marshalled at the back by Ciro Ferrara. Ottavio Bianchi was kicking every ball on the side lines, a few more minutes passed, still 1-1, that was enough. Napoli trying to get the inspirational Maradona on the ball he was trying to create but it was coming to nothing.
The scores fizzled through Juventus locked at 1-1 with Verona, the party was beginning already then the moment of history was made. Two blows followed by a long one of the game over, Napoli got their precious point to win their first ever scudetto.
The stadium was in a frenzy, this wasn’t just a victory for Napoli but for the south who had to put up with years of mocking from their richer counterparts in the North.
Napoli would go into complete the double by winning the Coppa Italia as well as for Fiorentina they finished the season a solid 9th position.
The two sides meet in the Coppa Italia final this weekend, being two if the most entertaining sides in Serie A if they both play to their potential we could be in for a real treat.
By Giovanni Dougall
When Calcio ruled the World: Anselmo Robbiati
When you say Anselmo Robbiati, you immediately think of that famous purple jersey and players like Gabriel Batistuta, Manuel Rui Costa and Francesco Toldo. Before all that success in Florence however, it started down in Serie C1 with Monza for Robbiati.
Born on New Year’s Day 1970 in Lecco, Robbiati was a small 5’8” attacking midfielder.
He was just 17 years old when he began his professional career in Lombardy. The young attacker really impressed during his time at the Stadio Brianteo racking up over 100 appearances for the club, scoring 20 goals in a six year spell.
'Spadino' (a nickname given to him by Monza team mate Giovanni Stroppa, in reference to a character from the Italian version if Happy Days) saw his career really take off in 1993 when he would move to Florence to join Fiorentina in Serie B.
Fiorentina had just been relegated the season before and president Cecchi Gori was determined to bounce straight back into Serie A. Appointing Claudio Ranieri as coach and bringing in talent like Francesco Toldo, Francis Flak and of course Robbiati the foundations were laid.
Spadino was outstanding in his debut season for la Viola. He was a key part in the club as they were promoted straight back to Serie A by winning the 1993/1994 Serie B title.
In the following years Robbiati would help Fiorentina cement themselves as a solid mid table club. Eventually they would be challenging for Europe each season. Robbiati wasn’t always in the starting line up each week but when he got his chance, whether it be from the start or on the bench, he never let the side down and chipped in with some important goals including the decisive goal again Sparta Prague in the round of 16 UEFA Cup Winners Cup.
After six successful years in Tuscany, with over 150 appearances for la Viola, Robbiati would move on in 1999 heading for Napoli. This would see the start of an unsettled spell in his career and after spending just one season in Naples Robbiati moved to Milan in 2000 to join Inter. Here he failed to make a single appearance and was loaned out to Perugia and former club Fiorentina.
Robbiati’s top flight days were over and in 2002 he was back in Serie B with Ancona. He would then have spells in Serie C2 with Grosseto then with his first club Monza and finally Serie D outfit Como.
Robbiati would retire in 2009 aged 39 after leading Lega Pro side Figline to back to back promotions. He realised the glory days in Tuscany one more time as former strike partner Enrico Chiesa joined him at Figline in his final season.
Robbiati can now be found on the touch line as Figline’s assistant manager.
When Calcio Ruled The World: Anselmo Robbiati was playing his part in putting Fiorentina back on the map.
By Giovanni Dougall
MY LATEST FOR FOOTBALL ITALIA
This week’s derby dell’Appennino has opponents Bologna and Fiorentina heading into it in contrasting form.
Bologna were beaten 1-0 by Juventus last time out and now sit dangerously in the relegation zone, level on points with Sassuolo but sat below them in 18th with an inferior head-to-head. With no wins in their last five games, this predicament is not lost on Davide Ballardini. “We have to focus on ourselves. Bologna must do their duty and the rest is of no interest to us. I don’t know how many points will mathematically secure safety, but our players know what to do.”
READ THE REST ON FOOTBALL ITALIA
Classic Calcio Match, Bologna v Fiorentina 05/02/1989
Sven-Göran Eriksson traveled to Emilia Romagna with his European chasing Fiorentina sitting comfortably in mid-table. Albeit minus free scoring Roberto Baggio they could still call upon talent like Brazilian Dunga, Alberto Di Chiara and Davide Pellegrini. As for Luigi Maifredi’s Bologna they were desperately trying to avoid being dragged into a relegation dogfight.
Tensions were high both on and off the field with countless smoke bombs going off, in the stands fans clashed with each other and police just before kick off, it was a crazy Stadio Renato Dall’Ara.
As things calmed down the game finally got underway and the home side started brightly, they forced Marco Landucci into a smart save at his near post early on. As Bologna controlled the opening moments of the game, Eriksson was cutting a frustrated man on the sidelines now on his feet barking orders. It seemed to influence his players as they began to settle and dominate the midfield creating a few half chances but still failing to test Nello Cusin in the Bologna goal.
Fiorentina would pay for there missed chances, some shocking defending from a Bologna corner would fall to Marco Monza who finished by poking the ball through the legs of Landucci. As Monza sprinted to his manager celebrate the jam packed Stadio Renzo Dell’Ara erupted with joy, it was a huge goal in their survival bid. With the goal scored three minutes before half time Bologna held on to go in at the break 1-0 to the good.
Fiorentina knew they had to put in a performance in the second half to keep their European dream alive and they started brightly but the defensive line of Bologna was solid once again. It was all Fiorentina now as the pressed on with Cusin finally making a save, smothering at the feet on Celeste Pin. Nello Cusin was called into action again tipping a header over the bar as Fiorentina turned up the pressure, almost straight away he was at it again turning a long range effort round the post.
Bologna got themselves together and against the run if play were awarded a free kick forcing Landucci into an impressive save tipping over from 18 yards. They were awarded a chance to wrap up the game as they were awarded a penalty in the 90th minute, Lorenzo Marronaro stepped but his poor penalty was stopped by Landucci in the Fiorentina goal. It was a poor penalty, hit to the keepers’ right at a good height for him. Bologna would hold on to win 1-0.
Fiorentina would qualify for Europe in 1988/1989 as they defeated Roma in a playoff and finished joint seventh, as for Bologna they would play in Serie A for another season as they finished two points outside the relegation zone.
As the sides meet this weekend Fiorentina are on coarse to qualify for Europe once again and just like in 1989 Bologna are hoping to avoid the drop so with plenty to play for we should be in for a treat at the Renzo Dell’Ara.
By Giovanni Dougall
Classic Calcio Match; Roma v Fiorentina 26th November 2000
Gabriel Batistuta at Fiorentina, was hero and a legend, playing 269 games and scoring 168 goals in nine seasons. However, as Batistuta sat in the Stadio Olimpico dressing room on the afternoon of 26th of November 2000 it was going to be an emotional affair. This was because he was in the Roma dressing room, about face his old employers for the first time. When he walked out he was going to be wearing the Giallorossi shirt of Roma and not the iconic Viola of his beloved Fiorentina.
Roma had hit the ground running at the start of the 2000/2001 season winning six out of their opening seven games. Batistuta was forming a frightening partnership with Francesco Totti and Vincenzo Montella.
As for Fiorentina they were clearly missing their Argentine hit man, only winning two out their opening seven games before their trip to the Eternal City.
The Stadio Olimpico was packed, fans full of expectation and excitement. The impressive start left them expecting another three points here in their title charge.
All eyes on were Batistuta as the game kicked off and as expected Roma started strongly. Full of confidence they dominated possession creating a few half chances.
Francesco Totti started brightly and was causing all sorts of problems, it was he who nearly set up the opening goal as he picked out Batistuta who’s spectacular volley from 18 yards was stopped by a flying Toldo in the Fiorentina goal.
Batistuta was at it again as he was sent clean through on the Fiorentina goal but as he tried to cut back the Fiorentina defence managed to smother him and clear the ball.
It was Totti’s turn to spurn a glorious opportunity as Marco Delvecchio picked him out, however, he couldn’t get enough on the ball to turn it home. A half dominated by the home team meant Fiorentina were lucky to get in 0-0 at the break.
Fatih Terim given his team some strong words at half time as they flew out traps in the second half. Angelo Di Livio was upended as he broke down the left flank, Rui Costa whipped in a dangerous ball only for Cristiano Lupatelli to fist the ball clear.
Capello was becoming frustrated figure as his Roma side failed to start the second half convincingly. This forced him into a change as he took off under performing Marco Delvecchio and put on prolific Vincenzo Montella.
This change seemed to work as the Romans settled and started creating chances again however still failed to really test Toldo. Terim was looking increasingly concerned as L’Aeroplanino (Montella) was causing havoc in his back line.
However Fiorentina could have and probably should have taken the lead, as Nuno Gomes ballooned over from 12 yards.
As the game appeared to be heading for a draw Fiorentina’s worst nightmare was about to come true as the ball fell to Batistuta some 20 yards out. He unleashed a ferocious right foot volley, this time Toldo was getting nowhere near it and it flew into the right top corner of the net.
The Olimpico erupted as did Capello and the whole Roma bench, all the Roma players were on the pitch all going wild apart from one man, Batistuta. After scoring one of the goals of his life he simply turned round, head down and tried walking away. Despite his team mates jumping on him there was not a hint of a smile or emotion if anything he looked embarrassed, even ashamed of what he’d just done, a great mark of respect for his former club.
Terim responded and threw on Enrico Chiesa to try and salvage something from the game but Roma held on and deservedly won 1-0. At the end of the game Batistuta was almost apologising to his former team mates and fans.
Roma however, had a new hero and would go into win the 2000/2001 Scudetto with Batistuta scoring 20 goals. As for Fiorentina they finished a respectable 7th, not bad after losing such a talent the summer before.
This Easter weekend it’s Fiorentina who welcome Roma to the Artemio Franchi lead by the man who terrorised them that afternoon in 2000, Vincenzo Montella.
By Giovanni Dougall
PICTURE OF THE DAY: CURVA FIESOLE
From personal experience there is not much that can beat watching football in the Florentine sun.
Today fans in the Stadio Artemio Franchi did just this in their 2-1 win against Udinese
A guide to the Ultra groups in Serie A: Juventus
Key Ultra Groups: Gruppo Storico Fighters 1977 (Fighters Historic Group 1977), Black and White Fighters Gruppo Storico 1977, Drughi (The Droogs), Viking
Other Ultra Groups: Fossa dei Campioni (Champions Den), Panthers, Gioventu Bianconera (Black and White Youth), Area Bianconera (Black and White Area), Indians, Nucleo Amato Bianconero (Nuclear Black and White Love) later renamed Nucleo 1985, Arancia Meccanica (Clockwork Orange) l Fighters, Irriducibili Vallette (Unbreakable Vallette), Arditi (Daring ones), 06 clan, Noi Soli (Only Us), Gruppo Marche 1993 (Marche Group), Bruxelles Bianconera (White and Black Brussels), Gruppo Homer (Homer Group), Assiduo Sostegno (Loyal Support), Bravi Ragazzi (Top boys), Tradizione Bianconera (Black and White Tradition), Vecchia Guardia (Old Guard)
“Real Madrid dumped you, Napoli repudiated you, only your greed brought you back here.”
This was the message that greeted Fabio Cannavaro on his return to Juventus in 2009. His two league titles with the Bianconeri did not spare him. He was regarded a traitor by the clubs Ultras, a player who had abandoned his team during their hour of need.
Back in 2006 Juventus were relegated to Serie B in the wake of the Calciopoli scandal. While players like Gianluigi Buffon and Alessandro Del Piero remained, Cannavaro moved to Real Madrid. It is hard to begrudge such a career move but this treachery was neither forgotten nor forgiven. In the Ultras eyes it was his avarice which brought him back. A group known as Viking started circulating a t-shirt saying “Cannavaro mercenary” on the front and “No forgiveness for traitors” on the back.
This treatment of a former club hero did not sit well with some of Juve’s supporters, but it exposes the visceral culture of the Ultras; one that borders on the extreme, but which has at its heart, is an unswerving passion for one club.
Darwin Pastorin, one of Italy’s famed football writers said:
“Juventus is a team which unites everyone: from intellectuals to workers…it is a universal team, a footballing Esperanto…and then there are the fans, the real fans, from Sicily to the Aosta Valley. There are eleven million of us!”
Juventus are the most successful club in Italian history with 29 league titles (31 if you’re a Juventino). They are the Manchester United of Italy. You either love them or hate them and perhaps this is where the nickname La Fidanzata d’Italia (Italy’s girlfriend) originates. The club is the third oldest in Italy. It was founded in 1897 by a group of students from Turin and since 1923 they have been managed by the Agnelli family (founders and owners of FIAT).
Juventus also have nationwide support. This is in part due to the influx of workers from the South who migrated to Turin to work at Mirafiori – the huge FIAT factory constructed on the edge of the city in 1939. FIAT provided thousands of jobs and Umberto Agnelli (former CEO at FIAT and chairman at Juventus) once claimed that ‘one of the reasons which led migrants to choose Turin during the great migrations of the 1950’s and 60’s was the possibility of going to see Juventus play’. This combined with the clubs huge success has seen their fan base become the largest in Italy with a surfeit of Ultra groups.
The story of the Juventus Ultras is like no other written in this series. It reads like a script of the Borgias with its bewildering catalogue of schisms, reformations and civil war.
The origins of the Bianconeri’s organised support can be traced back to two groups, Venceremos and Autonomia Bianconera. Formed in the mid-1970s both were positioned to the extreme left of the political spectrum, a stance which has changed considerably.
In 1977, one of Juve’s most renowned Ultra groups, Gruppo Storico Fighters (Historic Fighters Group), was founded by Beppe Rossi, a man who remains a heroic figure among the Ultras today. Residing in the Curva Sud Scirea (or Curva Filadelfia as it was known in the old Stadio Olimpico) the vestiges of the group survive today. For ten years they enjoyed prominence among the landscape of the Italian Ultras yet the era would be marred by the darkest day in the history of Juventus.
In 1985 on the 29th of May, 39 Juventus fans died at Heysel stadium during their European Cup final against Liverpool. Trouble had already flared when Liverpool fans breached a fence separating them from the Italians. In the maelstrom that followed, Juventus fans were crushed against a concrete wall which collapsed killing and injuring many people. The culpability lay with the Liverpool fans and Belgian authorities but in truth the stadium was too decrepit for a game of such magnitude.
However for Juventini the blame was apportioned solely to Liverpool. An attempt was made to remove any ‘Englishness’ from the Curva and a virulent hatred was born. When the sides were drawn together in the Champions League in 2005; many Juve Ultras made their feelings clear by turning their backs on the choreography prepared by Liverpool at Anfield reading ‘Amicizia’ (friendship). In the return leg, banners were displayed reading ‘Easy to speak, difficult to pardon murders’ and ‘15-4-89. Sheffield. God exists’, the latter a reference to the Hillsborough disaster.
The 1980’s also saw the inception of other influential Ultra groups including Viking (whose members hailed from Milan) and Nucleo Amato Bianconero. The latter changed their name to Nucleo 1985 in memory of the Heysel victims. In 1987, following the dissolution of Fighters due to brutal skirmishes with bitter rivals Fiorentina, Arancia Meccanica (Clockwork Orange) was formed. Inspired by the Stanley Kubrick film, the group was an amalgam of various splinters in the Curva Sud, and under the authorities behest their name was later changed to I Drughi (the Droogs). During their infancy their membership allegedly grew in excess of 10,000. However with the formation of Irriducibili Vallette (Vallette Unbreakables) who migrated to the Curva Nord and the re-emergence of the Fighters, the Ultras battled and squabbled among themselves.
Following the Bianconeri’sChampions League triumph against Ajax in 1996 the jubilant fans rallied under the same banner, calling themselves the Black and White Fighters Gruppo Storico 1977. However this unification faded with the outbreak of internecine fighting.
In 2005, yet again, the Fighters disbanded leaving the control of the Curva Sud up for grabs. This was compounded after the Turin giants were found guilty for their involvement in the Calciopoli scandal. A power struggle ensued and before a pre-season friendly against Alessandria in 2006 this reached an ugly peak. Allegedly, multifarious groups including Tradizione Bianconera (Black and White Tradition), Arditi (Daring ones - both comprised of former Fighters), Drughi, Irriducibili and Viking clashed in what can only be described as civil war. Two fans were stabbed and 50 were arrested. Allegedly this is not the only occasion Juventus Ultras have attacked each other.
Today it would appear relative peace has been restored. The Fighters have returned to the Curva Sud Scirea and they are accompanied by Viking, the Drughi and a bourgeoning number of others. While it is hard to get one’s head round this clannish mentality, the internal divisions reflect elements of wider Italian society.
Nonetheless the superfluity of Juventus Ultras can create one of the more colourful and eclectic atmospheres on the peninsula. Each group boasts their own banners creating a vibrant and multi-faceted choreography. This makes the chic Juventus stadium a cauldron on match days and there is rarely an empty seat.
Set to the backdrop of the Alps, straddling the River Po, Turin is often referred to as the Industrial centre of Italy. The city’s armoury includes FIAT, ancient Egyptian artefacts, a myriad of contemporary art and the best chocolate in Italy. However to the Juventini, Turin is most importantly home to a juggernaut of Italian football and the Ultras thrive in the knowledge that their beloved Vecchia Signora is the envied queen of Italy.
By Luca Hodges-Ramon - @LH_Ramon25
Florence is one of the most beautiful cities in the world and is renowned for art and culture. It is therefore quite apt that it has a stadium that is one of the best examples of 20th century architecture in the whole of the city.
Designed by architect Pier Luigi Nervi the stadium includes a huge tower called the “Tower of Marathon” which is 230ft tall. The concrete stadium has superb Roman style pillars at the entrance and once inside there is a perfect view from whatever seat you are given.
The stadium was renovated for the 1990 World Cup and the changes were most notable when they removed the running track and adding extra seating. This now makes the stadium a purpose built football arena and the large capacity creates an electric atmosphere.
One fantastic attribute this stadium has is that from the stands you can look out onto the rolling Tuscan hills, a view which is truly breath taking.
The Ultras on the Curva Fiesole are known as La Vecchia Guardia Firenze and are loud well organised and fiercely anti Juventus. If you are going to watch football in Italy this is a venue that should be near the top of the list.
The Derby against Bologna is also potent (I had fireworks thrown at me at this match in the stadium)
Key Ultra Groups: Ultras Viola & CAV - Colletivo Autonomo Viola
Other Ultra/Fan Groups: Legione Viola (Purple Legion), Guelfi (Guelphs), Granducato (Grand Duchy), L’Alcool Campi (Alcohol Campi – signifying fields or a province called Campi in Florence), Vieussex, Settebello (Beautiful seven), Fiorenza 93, Firenze Ultras, Gruppo Storico Ultras V.’73, Aficionados, Urban Crew, Alterati (Altered state – drug related), Fedelissimi (Stalwart faith), Bomber Group, Pazzi di lei (Crazy for Fiorentina), Sindrome Viola (Purple Syndrome), Vecchio Stampo (Old Fashioned), Stati Liberi del Tifo (Supporters Free State), Viola Korps, Gruppo Signa (Signa Group) and MANY others!!!
In 1289, a schism between the Pro-Papal Guelph forces of Florence and the imperial Ghibelline forces of Arezzo culminated in a brutal conflict at the Battle of Campaldino. This battlewas part of the long struggle between the popes and Holy Roman Emperors for power in Italy. It also reflected the fervent civic rivalries of the era, rivalries which remain to this day. On the blood strewn plains of Campaldino the Florentines and their allies triumphed. It was a victory that secured the Guelphs in Florence. The Tuscan Republic would go onto to become the birthplace of the Renaissance, a civic colossus on the Italian peninsula. Florence remains a city of unquestionable prestige and though the days of civic war are over, the city’s team – Fiorentina provide an outlet for campanilismo – or local patriotism. Expressions of Guelphism are often seen at the Stadio Artemio Franchi and under the aegis of the Ultras the city’s medieval splendour lives on. The rich heritage of Florence has seen the metropolis and its football club viewed by the supporters as one entity, a victory for La Viola being a victory for Florence. The team is the city’s symbolic army and it is these cultural nuances that set Fiorentina supporters apart in the world of the Italian ultras.
Fiorentina are said to have the 6th largest following in Italy and this is exemplified in their numerous Ultra groups (I lost count around 100). This perhaps reveals a trait particular to Florence, the need for individuality and ingenuity are entwined with the city’s glorious past. The first origins of Viola fan groups can be traced back to 1965 with the formation of Vieussex (the name of a historic library in Florence) and Settebello (Beautiful 7). These two groups are present on the Curva today, with Vieussex residing in the Curva Ferrovia and Settebello in the Curva Fiesole, the heartbeat of the Artemio Franchi.
One of the more renowned groups to have resided in the Curva Fiesole is the Ultras Viola (Purple Ultras). Formed in 1973, a vicious fight with the Genovese led some supporters to create a group of “super supporters” who could compete with any adversary. Founded and led by a man called Stefano Biagini aka ‘Pump’ this period is described by a Viola Ultra as the ‘glorious 70’s’ characterised by violent clashes, stolen banners, stadiums without police beatings, dangerous away days and above all the years of ‘Calcio vero’ (uncorrupted football). Despite the group’s prominence the Ultras Viola disbanded just 10 years after their inception following violent exchanges with Romanisti which saw their twinning with the Romans come to an abrupt end. Stolen banners (which both fans blamed on each other) sparked a irreconcilable quarrel and this combined with a rise in eminence of Colletivo Autonomo Viola or CAV (Autonomous Purple Collective) led to a changing of the guard. Created in 1978, CAV took a central position on the Curva and despite their dissolution in 2011 the group’s vestiges have ensured that the Fiesole remains one of the most vivacious Curvas on the peninsula.
It is also worth highlighting Alcool Campi (Alcohol Campi) a clan who lived a brief but fiery existence. Tempestuous in nature this group were said to be the culprits in an infamous incident already alluded to in this series where Fiorentina Ultras launched petrol bombs onto a train full of Bologna fans. A 14 year old tragically died and Alcool Campi quickly ceased to exist.
“Neither left nor right” has always been the motto of Fiorentina’s Ultras who have predominately refused political affiliation. This however does not have any bearing on their twinning’s and rivalries, epitomised in their longstanding friendship with Hellas Verona fans (traditionally right-wing) after ex-Fiorentina players joined the Gialloblu and helped them to their one and only Scudetto in 1985.
It is impossible to talk about Fiorentina without mentioning their virulent hatred for Juventus. When the Bianconeri come to the Artemio Franchi a furore rages across the city. The origins of this rivalry date back to the 1981/82 Serie A season in which the Viola had the Scudetto snatched from their grasp by Juventus on account of some dubious refereeing. This rivalry was accentuated when Fiorentina’s cult hero Roberto Baggio was sold to Juventus in 1990, triggering riots across the city.
In parts of the Tuscan capital you can buy stickers which read; zona anti-gobbizzata – hunchback-free zone. Hunchbacks are seen as lucky in Italy thus the nickname was patented for Juventus, a team seen as notoriously lucky. In what must be a sight to behold, albeit a strange one, Fiorentina fans have also been known to perform a ritual on players signed from Juventus in which they are ‘de-hunchbacked’. However this rivalry can take on a more sinister nature, with some Viola fans taunting their rivals about the Heysel tragedy which claimed the lives of 39 Juventini. Fiorentina fans have been known to wear Liverpool merchandise when facing their Turin adversaries, and following the tragedy in 1985 a banner was revealed by Fiorentina Ultras reading “39 less hunchbacks”. Juventus fans claim this is the reason for CAV’s attempt to befriend Liverpool fans back in 2009 after the two met in the Champions League.
Despite this the Fiorentina Ultras are renowned for their loyalty, sarcasm and irony. They are no strangers to decrying the club’s hierarchy or the team itself if they feel things aren’t being done to their lofty Florentine standards. Former owner Vittorio Cecchi Gori, whose disastrous tenure at the club culminated in bankruptcy and demotion to Serie C2 in 2002 can certainly vouch for this. Viola fans had to endure the humiliation of losing the club name for a year, which became Florentia Viola, and 30,000 of them descended on the city centre to make their feelings known to Cecchi Gori.
The hub of the Italian Renaissance, Florence is synonymous with famous names including Michelangelo, Dante, Machiavelli and the Medici. The Fiorentina Ultras take untrammelled pride in the city’s cultural history and the Artemio Franchi has become something of a holy ground for the Viola fanatics. Awash with purple and white the stadium can produce electrifying atmospheres and decorative choreographies that even the greatest Florentine artists would be proud to call their own.
CLASSIC PLAYER: GABRIEL BATISTUTA (BATIGOL)
When Diego Maradona claimed that Gabriel Batistuta was the best striker that has ever graced the face of the earth, nobody lifted an eyebrow. No greater praise can be heaped on the man known as ‘Batigol’ as his powerful play and deadly ability in the box made his feared throughout his career.
Fiorentina have often had (and still do have) fantastic offensive players but none have compared to Batistuta. In 1991 when he signed from Boca Juniors nobody would have expected the impact that he would have on Italian Football.
In a nine year period in Florence, the Argentine phenomenon received almost religious adulation from the Curva Fiesole. This fervent worship of their new hero was created through his god given ability to score goals. Serie A was in its pomp and known throughout the world for boasting some of the toughest defenses of all time. All of them however, without exception feared Batigol like he was the devil himself.
To put his goal scoring record into context, he is in the top ten all-time leading goals scorers in Serie A history. He scored 168 goals in 269 games for Fiorentina and 184 goals in 318 matches in his time in Italy. This equals a goal approximately every 1.7 matches which is simply breathe taking.
Batistuta did not seek the lime light and was also a loyal servant to the ‘Viola’. He stayed with them in during relegation to Serie B in 1992/93 and helped them return to the top flight. He turned down moves from bigger clubs although his loyalty unfortunately did not see him rewarded with a Serie A title with Fiorentina. When he eventually left he walked away with a Serie B medal, a Coppa Italia winner’s medal ad a Super Coppa Italiana trinket to his name. The nearest he got to the title was in 1998/99 when Firenze looked odds on to win the title, however, in week 20 he pulled up with a hamstring injury and the ‘Viola’ missed out to Milan.
Roma eventually turned his head in 2000 and he left the Renaissance city and transferred his predatory instincts to the Eternal City. There he would also become a legend helping Roma to win only their third title in a season that will go down in Giallorossi history. He scored 30 times in 63 games for Roma before being loaned to Inter in his later years for a less successful spell.
For a striker he had everything, power pace skill, ariel ability strength, confidence and seemingly never ending form. It is infact hard to think of another striker from this era who was more complete or a deadly. When Calcio ruled the world Maradona was watching and thinking ‘Nobody is better than Batigol’
Fiorentina Supporters to stage protest against Lazio.
Fiorentina Ultras may be partially absent for their game against Lazio after claims that they are ready to stage a protest during the game.
The Viola faithful are said to be unhappy with poor performances by officials against their side and have reportedly released a statement inviting the fans who will be present at the stadium on Sunday to leave the stands for the first part of their clash against the Biancocelesti.
According to lazionews24 the statement reads:
“Now is enough, Fiorentina are tired of passively accepting the continual wrongs of referees. A vase was filled that is now overflowing. A person who considers Fiorentina an integral part of their life must express their anger and support this initiative. We invite the fans who will be present at the stadium on Sunday to leave the stands for the first 10 minutes. We want everyone to realise our dissatisfaction and distrust that has occurred because of the mismanagement of the system in Italy. After these 10 minutes we will return to our rightful place in the stands supporting the team.”
After Fiorentina’s 2-2 draw with Parma last Monday, head-coach Vincenzo Montella claimed in his press conference that his players feel victimised by refereeing decisions over the last year and a half.
This sense of injustice is clearly shared by the Viola’s stalwart support.
The Tuscan Ultras are no strangers to voicing their displeasure and incidents in the past have even seen them lock their own players in their dressing room against Lecce back in 2012.
Their most notorious protests were directed at former owner Vittorio Cecchi Gori, whose disastrous tenure at the club culminated in bankruptcy and demotion to Serie C2 (Lega Pro 2) in 2002. Viola fans had to endure the humiliation of losing the club name for a year, which became Florentia Viola, and 30,000 of them descended on the city centre to make their feelings known to Cecchi Gori.
Read more about Fiorentina’s Ultras here - http://thegentlemanultra.tumblr.com/post/72436561262/a-guide-to-the-ultra-groups-in-serie-a
By Luca Hodges-Ramon - @LH_Ramon25
Giuseppe Rossi’s injury is a worry for Fiorentina and Italy
Tuscan derbies are full of passion and fighting spirit which result in games being played out in a vigorous manner. This harks back to the days when the states and principalities which now combine to make up Italy would take to the field in a much more sinister type of combat.
There are always causalities in war, just like there are always injuries in football matches. But when Livorno’s Leandro Rinaudo flew into Giuseppe Rossi on Sunday, it did not sit well with millions of onlookers.
This was primarily because the foul seemed intentional and unnecessary, and secondly because Rossi has been one of the stars of Serie A this year and was tipped to be a main player in the World Cup in Brazil. Last but not least, many simply felt for the young man after he seemed to suffer another major setback in his injury-ridden career.
Rossi has had successive anterior cruciate ligament injuries causing him to miss over two years of his playing career, but this season, all seemed to have changed. Fiorentina have benefited from his prolific form this term and will be anxious to find out the extent of the injury.
Coach Vincenzo Montella told Sky Sport Italia (h/t Football Italia):
We are all worried about Rossi…We are above all sad for his state of mind. It’s a real shame, as the foul seemed to be intentional and the player behind it didn’t even apologise. Usually when someone commits a foul like that you say sorry, as there was no way Rinaudo was going to get that ball.
It is now unclear how long the American-born forward will be out. Football Italia reports that Rossi will be flying out to the U.S. to be treated by Dr. Richard Steadman, who will conduct more tests before releasing his verdict.
Whatever the outcome, this is still a major blow to Fiorentina, who are chasing a Champions League spot, and to the national team, who will miss him if he’s not in peak form for the World Cup in Brazil.
Rossi has scored 15 goals in 19 games for Fiorentina in all competitions with four assists to go with it. He has become one of the most feared strikers in the division and has been going through a renaissance befitting of his Florentine surroundings. With Mario Gomez still sidelined through injury, this leaves the Viola with some big gaps to plug with fixtures now coming thick and fast.
Cesare Prandelli will also be nervously awaiting the results, as he had previously praised Rossi's performance for the Azzurri in November, per ESPN FC: ”I was delighted with them [Rossi and Balotelli], they harmonised immediately…they combined very well numerous times.” The fact that arguably the more consistent and professional of his front two could be missing for Brazil will fill him with dread.
Much more will be known in the coming weeks regarding the extent of this injury, but the trepidation likely to be felt by Montella and Prandelli combined with the heartache for fans (not just Florentine) shows what an admired professional and exciting player the little American-born striker is.
By Richard Hall