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Thirty years of Parma v Fiorentina

A look back at the major games and big names of this fixture, from Malesani to Prandelli, Zola to Mutu with a little Pepito Rossi in between

Parma v Fiorentina
Adrian Mutu enjoyed his time at Parma, especially with Fiorentina
Photo by NewPress/Getty Images

The history of Parma against Fiorentina in Serie A only spans the last thirty years, to the beginning of the 1990’s, when Parma finally arrived in the top flight.

However we can go all the way back to the season when Fiorentina won their first promotion to Serie A, the sides meeting in Parma in February of 1931. A 3-1 away win for the Viola that Sunday kept Fiorentina at the top of the table, and although they did slip down the table after a difficult period following this game, they did end the season back in first place and in Serie A for the next season.

Parma on the other hand would need to wait another 60 years before they made that breakthrough, but when they did, they became one of the top clubs in Italy right away. Throughout the 1990’s they won European trophies and the Coppa Italia, they actually qualified for Europe in their first ever season in Serie A, 1990/91 and continued to do so for the following ten consecutive seasons. Into the 2000’s though and the financial cracks started to show, and their backers Parmalat collapsed in a financial fraud scandal. The club needed to separate themselves from the failed company, and after a number of dodgy owners the club eventually went bust and needed to start again from way down in Serie D. After three successive promotions, Parma have been back in Serie A now since the 2018/19 season.

When Fiorentina travelled to the Stadio Ennio Tardini in May 1995, for the second last day of the season, Parma were sitting in second place in the table, with Juventus already confirmed as champions. They had already knocked Fiorentina out of the Coppa Italia at the quarter-final stage.

With just one win from their last five games, Claudio Ranieri’s Fiorentina needed to pick up points here at Parma. To do this they would be looking to that season’s top scorer, Gabriel Batistuta, already on 25 league goals. Also in the Viola team that day were Rui Costa and Francesco Toldo in goal. There was also a Parma man in the line-up, Stefano Pioli, who had joined his hometown club as a youth player. He would be facing a Parma forward line made up of Gianfranco Zola, Faustino Asprilla and Tomas Brolin.

The sides went in scoreless at the break, and two changes, one for each team, would turn out to be decisive in the second half. Marco Branca came on to replace Brolin, and it was he who broke the deadlock with just fifteen minutes left. He managed to lose his marker, the Fiorentina sub Andrea Sottil when Asprilla floated a free-kick into the box. Just five minutes later and Sottil was again the guilty party, his poor attempt at a headed clearance causing trouble in front of the Fiorentina goal, before he took down Zola for a penalty. Zola picked himself up and made no mistake from the spot.

Branca finished off the scoring four minutes later, a Zola cross found him completely unmarked in front of goal, and he barely needed to move his right foot to make it 3-0. Fiorentina went on to lose their final game of the season at home to AC Milan, leaving them in 10th place, while Parma, also losing their final game at Napoli, ended up in third spot, level on points with runners-up Lazio.

The following season, 1995/96, saw the sides meet much earlier at Parma, in September for the fourth round of Serie A fixtures. Parma had strengthened their squad with the likes of Fabio Cannavaro arriving from Napoli and from Barcelona, they brought in the Bulgarian forward Hristo Stoichkov. Fiorentina meanwhile had signed Swedish midfielder Stefan Schwarz from Arsenal.

In the end it was the same result, 3-0, as the previous game just four months ago. This time Parma went in at the break already two goals up. The new man Stoichkov, to the delight of the onlooking Barcelona tenor José Carreras, opened the scoring ten minutes before the break, and Massimo Crippa adding the second six minutes later. Fiorentina offered very little and it was all over shortly after the hour mark when Antonio Benarrivo grabbed the final goal of the game. By the end of the season though, Fiorentina would finish in fourth place, with Parma in sixth.

Fiorentina would need to wait for the 1997/98 season to claim their first ever Serie A win away to Parma. The sides met in April with the Viola one point behind their rivals, both with hopes of claiming a place in Europe for the following season. Fiorentina had brought in the Brazilian Edmundo in the winter transfer window, and after a scoreless opening half, it was his goal that would put Fiorentina ahead less than ten minutes after the break. The Argentinian Hernán Crespo brought Parma level just four minutes later, but with thirteen minutes left to play, Edmundo turned provider, setting up Rui Costa to score the winner, with Gianluigi Buffon helpless in the Parma goal.

This defeat put a little more pressure on Carlo Ancelotti on the Parma bench, having already gone out of both the Coppa Italia, and more importantly at the group stage of the Champions League. There were already rumours that Fiorentina boss, Alberto Malesani, in just his first season in charge, was not seeing eye to eye with the owner Vittorio Cecchi Gori, certainly not the first or last manager to find himself in that situation. Soon news spread that Parma were looking to bring him in for the following season, and in the end, having taken Fiorentina to fifth place, he headed off to take charge of a Parma side that had finished one place behind the Viola, also qualifying for the UEFA Cup.

That following season then, 1998/99, saw Malesani take on his former club, now managed by Giovanni Trapattoni fresh from his adventures at Bayern. They would meet on Halloween, at the Ennio Tardini, with Fiorentina top of the table, Parma six points behind the leaders. There was to be no scare for Parma this time out, Crespo scoring a goal in each half, the only goals of the game.

This was a Parma side featuring the likes of Buffon, Cannavaro, Lilian Thuram, Juan Sebastián Verón, Crespo and Enrico Chiesa. For Fiorentina it would be a season remembered for the what ifs, Batistuta’s injury and Edmundo’s trip home to Brazil for Carnevale certainly didn’t do their title hopes any favours. In the end they would finish third with Parma one point behind in fourth spot, both qualifying for the Champions League.

The sides also met in the final of the Coppa Italia, Parma coming out on top on away goals after the two legged final.

When the sides met at the end of February the next season, 1999/2000, Parma had gone seven league games without a win, and the fans were making their displeasure known. They were up against a Fiorentina side, without an injured Batistuta, that had yet to record an away win all season, in fact it was over a year since their last success on the road in Serie A.

By the end of the game, Buffon would be beaten four times, while Toldo would keep a clean sheet at the Tardini. It was a player who had been with Parma the previous season, Abel Balbo, who opened the scoring midway through the opening half. No further goals before the break, but in the second half it was a Rui Costa show, not just the best player on the night, but also netting two goals before Pedrag Mijatović scored his first ever goal in Serie A direct from a free-kick with five minutes left in the game to make it a resounding 4-0 win for the Viola.

The 2000/01 season saw the teams meet in Parma on the opening day of the season. This was a Fiorentina side who would now have to do without the goals of Gabriel Batistuta, the Argentinian now with Roma. They would be hoping that the ex Parma star Enrico Chiesa could fill the gap, after having a difficult first season with the Viola due to injury problems.

Fiorentina also had a new manager, the man who had just won the UEFA Cup with Galatasary. Coming into this first league game however, he was already under pressure, and in disagreement with Cecchi Gori. Fiorentina were already out of the UEFA Cup at the first hurdle, losing to Austrian side Innsbruck. What had upset the Viola owner even more was his manager writing him a public letter in the newspapers, asking that new players be brought in to strengthen the squad he had just inherited.

A tough away trip to Parma was probably not what the new man would have been hoping for, but in the end his side almost took all three points here, a last minute penalty allowing Malesani’s side to snatch a draw. Terim’s day got off to the worst possible start, with a Parma goal in the first five minutes, Brazilian Márcio Amoroso with the goal. He would have to wait until twenty minutes into the second half to see Fiorentina equalize, and with Christian Amoroso scoring his first goal in Serie A just 8 minutes from the end, it looked like a happy ending for the Viola. In injury time however, Tomáš Řepka, only on the pitch a few minutes, brought down Emiliano Bonazzoli in the box, red card and penalty, which Amoroso put away to steal the draw.

Terim would be gone before the season finished, to be replaced by Roberto Mancini. Mancini found himself with a Coppa Italia final to play, the opponents? Parma yet again.

This time it was the Viola who came out on top over the two legged final, a Paolo Vanoli goal four minutes from time in the first leg away at Parma would in the end decide the tie. The teams drew 1-1 back in Florence, and Fiorentina had their trophy and revenge over Parma.

After the disastrous saga of Fiorentina going bust, and starting again under the Della Valle, they made their way back up to Serie A, and their battles with Parma could resume.

One memorable clash, certainly from a Viola perspective, came in the 2005/06 season, when the sides met in Parma in February 2006. The previous season Fiorentina had just about managed to avoid relegation and this season they had a new man in charge, former Parma manager Cesare Prandelli. They had brought in some new players, among them Luca Toni who had impressed with his 20 goals for Palermo the previous season and on loan from Valencia they now had former Parma player Stefano Fiore.

Fiorentina at this point in the season were in 5th place, just one point behind Roma in a battle for a Champions League spot, while Parma were struggling, just three points away from the relegation zone. Prandelli received a warm welcome from the Parma fans that Saturday night at the Tardini, and the Parma players were certainly fired up for this one, going 2-0 up within the opening 20 minutes. The opening goal after only three minutes came from the penalty spot, after a Valeri Bojinov handball was spotted by the linesman.

With Luca Toni on the pitch but not at 100%, this was not the impact Prandelli had been hoping for from the Bulgarian forward. By the time the half-time whistle came however, Bojinov had more than made up for his early mistake, with not one, but two goals to send the sides in level at the break.

Three minutes into the second half and this time it was Fiorentina with the early goal, the great Dane, Martin Jørgensen putting the Viola back in front, his sixth league goal of the season. Twenty minutes from the end Luis Jiménez had an easy tap in from a Dario Dainelli corner to finish off the scoring. Fiorentina coming back from 2-0 down to win 2-4.

Fiorentina did make it into the top four at the end of the campaign, but this was a season that will be remembered for the Calciopoli scandal, and not only were the Viola demoted to 9th spot but would start the following season on minus 15 points.

Which takes us to 2006/07, with that heavy penalty it was expected that Fiorentina would find it tough, but in the end they still managed to make it up to 6th spot and a place in Europe. Parma on the other hand would struggle, and when Fiorentina travelled to the Tardini stadium in April 2007, the home team found themselves in the relegation zone.

They had already had a change of manager in January, former Fiorentina and Parma player Stefano Pioli lost his job after yet another defeat, the loss at the San Siro to AC Milan was their fourth in a row, and they were without a win in 12 games. The new man in charge was former Viola boss, Claudio Ranieri.

Ranieri had still to take Parma away from the danger zone when his Parma side took on a Fiorentina unbeaten in 11 games and with a goal-scoring partnership of Luca Toni and Adrian Mutu who already had 30 goals between them. Mutu had already shown the Parma fans how dangerous he was when he played with the club under Prandelli back in 2002/03, scoring 18 league goals that season. Parma however had a new goal threat, a young American and future Fiorentina star, Giuseppe Rossi. Pepito had joined the club on loan from Manchester United in January.

It was all Rossi in this game, a goal in each half enough to give Parma a vital 2-0 win. Before the half hour break, collecting the ball just inside the box, he made light work of the Viola defense and left former Parma keeper Sébastien Frey helpless with his shot. The game stayed like this until the last minute when Manuel Pasqual took down Daniele Dessena in the area and Pepito Rossi made no mistake from the spot.

Ranieri did manage to keep Parma safe, finishing the season in 12th place, but the following season 2007/08 saw him take over at Juventus, and this time three different managers would not be enough to keep Parma from the dreaded drop. Fiorentina meanwhile, even without Luca Toni, now at Bayern Munich, would make it into the Champions League qualifying places. They had the goals of Adrian Mutu to thank for that.

When Fiorentina travelled to Parma in January 2008, the Viola were one point off that valuable fourth spot while Parma were four points clear of the relegation zone. This was Frey’s first game back after a month out through injury, returning in time to face his old club again. Another ex, Adrian Mutu, would spend the evening getting endless abuse from his former fans. He had his revenge and a chance to silence them, when his header from a corner, took a slight deflection, and just before half-time Fiorentina took the lead.

With just over twenty minutes to play, the game was level, another header, this time from the Senegalese defender Ferdinand Coly. Mutu wasn’t finished yet though, when Christian Vieri went down in the box with just five minutes remaining he stepped up and although veteran Parma keeper Luca Bucci got a hand to his penalty, it was the winning goal of the game.

When Parma came back to Serie A, they would have late penalties of their own, in 2011/12 it was Sebastian Giovinco who would grab a 2-2 equalizer from the spot. The following season, with Fiorentina 1-0 up at the Tardini through a Facundo Roncaglia goal, a last minute penalty from Jaime Valdés spoiling the party.

Which takes us to our last game at an empty Ennio Tardini stadium, in July. Again this was a game where penalties played a big part, in fact all three goals in the match came from the spot. In the first half Erick Pulgar put his two away, and just four minutes after the break Juraj Kucka pulled it back to 2-1 with another penalty. After having a look at the VAR, the referee decided to award this one for a foul by captain Germán Pezzella.

Fiorentina did hold on for an important win, and at the end of this very long season, they would finish in 10th place, level on points with Parma and Hellas Verona. Since then, while Giuseppe Iachini was confirmed on the Fiorentina bench, for now, Parma replaced their manager, Roberto D’Aversa making way for former Fiorentina player Fabio Liverani.

Having met 23 times so far in Parma, Fiorentina have a total of 5 wins. A record they’ll need to improve upon if Beppe Iachini wants to keep his job. Just watch out for those penalties!