As some of you may have noticed, it’s been a while since we here at Viola Nation have posted an article. Sorry about that.
For those of you who rely on us for news regarding the goings-on of the men’s team, you’ll be pleased to learn that you’ve not missed much. Since we last spoke they’ve lost to Parma, drawn with Genoa, and been linked to signing every living Balkan male and Amadou Diawara. Oh, they’ve loaned Luis Muriel from Sevilla too, which is, err, fine.
Moving on to the actual topic of this article, December was a busy month for the women’s team, facing four league opponents and also seeing the start of their campaign to defend their Coppa Italia title.
Florentia vs Fiorentina
Fiorentina kicked of December with an away trip to neighbours Florentia. Despite this being their first year in the top flight, Florentia have established themselves as a strong Serie A side, and came into the fixture fifth in the standings.
It took just three minutes for Fiorentina to create their first serious threat on the Florentia goal, with Ilaria Mauro being denied in stunning fashion by Rachele Baldi from inside the box. The pressure would continue to mount against the home side, with both Mauro and Lana Clelland finding themselves in good positions only to direct shots too close to Baldi to cause any serious trouble.
The deadlock would not last though, and 35 minutes into the first half Clelland beat her defender to a near post cross and deftly finished over the ‘keeper to give Fiorentina the lead. Fiorentina have looked undefendable out wide at times this season, and Clelland would again add to the long list of goals scored from crosses two minutes later, meeting a well-hit delivery from Alia Guagni at the back post and heading in her second of the gam.e. Another Guagni cross might have provided Clelland owith a hat-trick before half time, but for another great stop from Baldi. The game would be put to bed before the break though, as former Viola defender Michele Rodella challenged Mauro in the air only to have the ball bounce off the top of her head and past Baldi.
The second half saw Florentia regain their composure, and as had been the case before their collapse in the final ten minutes of the first half, their defence performed admirably against a Viola attack that could have easily scored twice as many goals against a less organised team. There was however time left for two more moments of excitement, first Danila Zazzera was denied a consolation goal against her parent club as a sweetly struck volley from the edge of the box was just unable to beat Stephanie Ohrstorm and find the top corner. Then later Alice Parisi would see an effort from a similar distance bounce off the inside of the post and fall to the feel of an opposing defender.
Final Score: Florentia 0-3 Fiorentina (Clelland x2, Rodella og)
Fiorentina vs Pink Sport Time Bari
The refereeing in Italy is often accused of being fixed; it is a commonly held belief that in many games one side gets favourable treatment from the referees in exchange for amounts of copious amounts of money. There are examples of this being objectively true, but more often than not I think that cynical fans mistakenly believe something to be the evidence of corruption when it is in fact simply incompetence. This is what I believe happened 50 minutes into the game between Fiorentina and Pink Sport Time Bari. After hitting the post from the penalty spot, Fiorentina’s Tatiana Bonetti regathered the ball and scored giving her team a 2-1 lead. As one of the Bari players tried to explain to the referee, this goal should have been disallowed and an indirect free kick given – as the laws of the game state that the player who takes a dead ball cannot touch the ball again until another player has done so. The referee didn’t know the rules of the game he was being paid to officiate and the goal stood. Fiorentina went on to win 6-2.
Normally that would be the end of it, a referee made a clear mistake, the fans get to moan about how much better we’d be than the paid officials, and life goes on. Life however did not go on, and Bari filed a complaint accusing Fiorentina of match fixing and asking FIGC to give them the victory ex post facto. This is a ridiculous request, and naturally FIGC did not honour it. Instead they annulled the game.
A 6-2 win was annulled because one goal should have been disallowed. If there are words to explain the utter lunacy of that, I do not know them.
Final Score: FIGC 1-0 Reasonable Decision Making
Fiorentina vs Orobica
Next to visit the Gino Bozzi were relegation contenders Orobica. The Bergamo outfit looked outclassed from the start, and it took just five minutes for the home team to take the lead, Stephanie Breitner finishing from five-yards out after her initial attempt on goal was parried back into the box. Tatiana Bonetti should have doubled the lead five minutes later as Clelland dribbled through the Orobica defence and found her open on the edge of the six-yard box, but the Italy international couldn’t keep her head over the ball and watched it fly over the bar. A second would arrive just two minutes later though, as a glancing header at the near post by Valery Vigiliucci left teenage ‘keeper Lia Lonni with no chance. Clelland had looked in unplayable form throughout the opening 20 minutes of the game, and when she found herself one-on-one with Lanni in the box she inevitably put her name on the scoresheet. 3-0 down, 25 minutes in, Orobica began to play more aggressively, but didn’t possess the quality on the day to work the ball into the Fiorentina box; nor did they have the ability to stay in front of Clelland, and just after the half hour mark the Scottish international doubled her tally, shaking off a defender at the near post and finding the net from a narrow angle.
The second half started in similar vein to the first, as Alice Parisi was allowed too much space inside the box and added to the lead five minutes after the break. With the result all but settled, coach Antonio Cincotta withdrew Clelland and Bonetti. Unfortunately for the opposition their replacements Sophia Kongouli, and Danila Zazzera (in her first Serie A game after being recalled from Florentia) both came on with a clear point to prove to the management team, and but for some excellent goal keeping from Linna could have ended the game with a brace each. Even with Linna’s second half heroics, Orobica could not keep themselves from finding a way to concede, and with 70 minutes gone defender Marta Brasi misread the bounce of a Davina Philtjens header and deflected the ball into her own goal (though FIGC very generously assessed the goal to Philtjens).
Final Score: Fiorentina 6-0 Orobica (Breitner, Vigilucci, Clelland x2, Parisi, Philtjens)
Roma vs Fiorentina
Dull is not a word usually associated with Fiorentina Women, and even in a 0-0 draw against midtable Roma the team managed to produce a number of exciting moments, but couldn’t seem to turn their chances into anything which could trouble Valentina Casaroli in the Roma goal.
Final Score: Roma 0-0 Fiorentina
Florentia vs Fiorentina
The second meeting of the two teams in under a week saw la Viola knock le Rossobianche out of the Coppa Italia.
Fiorentina took the lead 14 minutes in, Mauro heading in at the near post from a corner, but the lead lasted just 90 seconds, as la Viola failed to deal with a free kick allowing Deborah Salvatori Rinaldi to finish from close range. Fiorentina might have responded just as quickly themselves, but neither a Parisi free kick, or a Breitner volley from the resultant corner were enough to beat veteran ‘keeper Chiara Marchitelli. In truth, it was Florentia who looked the more likely to score the third goal, and it took the fingertips of Stephanie Ohrstrom to deny Evelyn Vicchiarello a goal against her former club. The away team would restore their lead though, after Breitner was brought down in the box Marchitelli the referee awarded a very soft penalty, which was placed too far from the bottom corner by Bonetti allowing the Florentia goalkeeper to parry the ball away, though not far enough to stop the diminutive winger from reclaiming the ball and finding the net on her second attempt.
Even more so than in the previous meeting between the two teams, Florentia’s quality showed in the second half, and the away team struggled to create chances in the second half, registering just one attempt on goal. Throughout the season though, Florentia have been kept down by their inability to create chances through anyone other than Salvatori Rinaldi, and fortunately this would prove to be the case again, and outside of one open header which the ex-Italy striker will be disappointed to have seen go wide the home team could not turn extensive possession in the final third into meaningful opportunities to score.
Fiorentina greet the new year third in Serie A. five points behind Milan and six back from current leaders Juventus, although they do have a game in hand (cheers, Bari). Heading into the second half of the season trailing the pacesetters isn’t ideal, but January offers as good a chance as possible to catch up, with games against mid-table Mozzanica, Milan, and an away trip to Pink Sport Time, as well as a Coppa Italia quarter final against Verona coming up. Whilst January is too early to say that all 9 points are vital to stay in the race for the Scudetto, la Viola are faced with the opportunity to close in on their rivals.