The year is 2039. The Viola Nation inter-dimensional physics department has finally perfected its wormhole technology, allowing a few intrepid explorers to see how alternate timelines played out in parallel universes. Today, we’re going back, back, back to 2010 to explore the mysteries.
In the 89th minute of their Round of 16 clash, Tom Henning Øvrebo looked over at his assistant after Miroslav Klose headed home a winner for Bayern Munich. Following the most basic of refereeing protocols, he waved off the goal because Klose was at least 4 yards offside. The match ended tied at 1-1.
Now behind on away goals, Bayern needed to score in the second leg in Florence. The Viola set up to counterattack, happily soaking up pressure from the visitors. After winning the ball deep, Juan Manuel Vargas burst forward, brushing off a challenge from Philipp Lahm and, as Mark van Bommel attempted to decapitate him, played in Stevan Jovetić. Jojo, in turn, drove at a badly-overmatched Daniel van Buyten, turning him inside out before firing a low shot that Manuel Neuer saved. But Alberto Gilardino, alert as ever, scrambled home the rebound before peeling off to play his tiny violin. Just like that, the Viola had opened up a massive lead.
Bayern threw caution to the wind in the second half, pushing everyone forward, and even got a goal via a long range Arjen Robben strike after he cut inside Massimo Gobbi (who didn’t get sent of for nothing). But Fiorentina held strong and held on to record a famous 2-1 win that saw them into the next round of the Champions League.
Up against Manchester United, Fiorentina produced a masterclass. By sitting deep and negating the threat of the Reds’ pace in behind, Fiorentina frustrated Sir Alex Ferguson’s men at the Franchi, especially after Alessandro Gamberini scored off a late corner to hand the hosts a 1-0 lead.
While most pundits dismissed Fiorentina in the away leg, the Tuscans had already proven their ability to win in England and took a shock lead just after halftime after Vargas absolutely leathered a shot past Edwin van der Sar. A shell shocked United squad took awhile to respond but eventually poured forward, eventually adding an equalizer through Ryan Giggs but, despite nearly 10 minutes of stoppage time, were unable to breach the purple wall again. Just like that, the Viola were into the quarterfinals.
Up against old enemies Lyon, the Gigliati brought their experience against the French side to bear. After trading 1-0 home victories with les Gones in the group stage, Cesare Prandelli managed the exact same pair of results before going through on penalties after Sebastien Frey saved 3 of 6 penalties.
That set up a final with Inter Milan, who’d already done the domestic double under Jose Mourinho that year. Despite the Nerazzurri being massive favorites, Fiorentina were ready, having played them to a draw and a 1-0 loss already. In a final that was more tense than exciting, JoJo seemed to have settled a tight affair with a strike on the hour mark, but Samuel Eto’o equalized after a mistake from Gianluca Comotto. With the scores tied, it fell to Massimo Gobbi, the least-likely man on the pitch, to burst forward and thump a diagonal strike past a shocked Julio Cesar just before the final whistle to settle the match, sending Fiorentina to their first European crown.
With the unlikeliest of Champions League glories, the Della Valle brothers opted against forcing Prandelli out despite a disappointing 11th-place finish in the league. Indeed, the continental success convinced Daniele and Andrea to loosen the purse springs; the massive additions of Adriano and Mikel Arteta solidified Fiorentina’s reputation as the world’s funnest attacking side.
Without the Champions League in the following season, Fiorentina exploded in Serie A, jumping to 2nd in the league and finishing just behind AC Milan after a controversial final day. After Chelsea poached Prandelli, Pantaleo Corvino brought in a little-known tactician named Gian Piero Gasperini to replace San Cesare.
Wait, what’s this? The Alternate Universe Exploration Capsule is shaking itself to pieces. We’ve ventured too far outside of our own timeline; we have to pull the lever and go back, back, back to our own universe, cursed though it may be. But if you give us some time to repair the AUEC, we should be able to explore further paths not taken in a subsequent episode of What If Fiorentina Hadn’t Cocked It All Up? Join us next time, fellow time travelers, and until then, stay out of that temporal slip stream.
Fiorentina has canceled, well, pretty much everything.
Serie A is still sorting out how to finalize the table. We have ideas.
We asked you which current Viola player has the best hair, and you answered. Bartłomiej Drągowski, take a flawlessly-bearded bow.
I came here to do two things: play Super Smash Bros. on the N64 and watch Fiorentina. And I’m all out of Fiorentina.
Lastly, if you’re wondering what this pandemic means for VN, we’ve got you covered. Spoiler alert: it’s more of the same, but subbing in more stupidity for match reports.
Not really a poll in the usual sense, but what should we write about while we’re stuck in this particular version of hell? Drop us a comment, please.
Comment of the week
If the league decides to decide the final table via trial by combat, Nolan KB’s got a solid argument for who Fiorentina’s representative should be.
That’s it for this week, folks. Wash your hands.