In the 1955/56 season, Fiorentina traveled to Turin to take on Juventus on October 2nd, for the third round of Serie A games. Juventus had drawn their opening two games, while Fiorentina had opened the season with a draw at Pro Patria and a 1-0 win over Padova.
An early chance for the home side saw Brazilian forward Leonardo Colella hit more of the grass than the ball, fluffing his shot with just Giuliano Sarti to beat. After only four minutes, Fiorentina had taken the lead. Their counter attack led to a shot by Guido Gratton, the Juventus keeper Giovanni Viola, managed to keep it out but Miguel Montuori pounced and found the net.
The Brazilian, Julinho, almost doubled the lead but his shot hit the post. Shortly afterwards, with 18 minutes on the clock, Julinho had another chance. This time he went past the keeper but Juve defender Benito Boldi managed to clear the ball. It only went as far as Giuseppe Virgili and his first time shot made it 2-0 with Viola still out of position.
Colella had another chance from a header, but this time Sarti got down to save and Fiorentina went in at the break with their two goal advantage. Less than ten minutes into the second half and Ardico Magnini made it 3-0. Juventus tried to get back into the game and a shot from Giuseppe Corradi went just wide of the post. Danish forward Karl Aage Præst, in his final season with the bianconeri, missed an easy chance in front of goal, with his attacking partner Giampiero Boniperti kept quiet all afternoon by the Viola defense.
With three minutes left to play, Fiorentina finished off the scoring to make it 4-0. Gratton’s cross into the area was met with a poor attempt at a headed clearance from Cesare Nay, and when the ball fell to Virgili, his first time volley left the keeper Viola with no chance.
As the teams left the field at the packed Comunale in Turin, the Juventus fans rose to applaud the Fiorentina team, a sight you definitely won’t see these days. That win meant Fiorentina were level on five points with Torino in second place. The leaders Inter, stayed a point ahead on maximum points, after a 4-0 win over Pro Patria.
By the time the sides met again in Florence in February, an undefeated Fiorentina side were top of the table. They held a five point lead over Milan, with Juventus a further three points behind. That eight point gap looked even more impressive when you consider that Fiorentina had also played a game less than Juventus. The previous week, Fiorentina’s game at Padova was postponed, as were many others, due to snow covering most of the country. Juventus had played their game, but lost away to Triestina.
Juventus had not been defeated in Florence since 1947, and Fiorentina were without both Julinho and keeper Sarti for this game. Riccardo Toros took Sarti’s place between the posts. Juventus meanwhile had Bruno Garzena, Umberto Colombo and Antonio Montico all away on international duty with the military squad.
While the snow had cleared from the previous week, the game was played in a cold icy wind. Fiorentina played into the strong wind in the opening half. Virgili had the best of the chances early on, including one spectacular over head kick, but he failed to hit the target.
The visitors looked to be about to escape Florence with a point, but in the last four minutes of the game, Fiorentina scored twice. Claudio Bizzarri’s ball across the box was met by Montuori to finally break the deadlock. Just two minutes later, Bizzarri’s corner was met by the head of Maurilio Prini and Fiorentina had secured the win and another two points.
Fiorentina continued their glorious run to the club’s first ever Scudetto win. Their only defeat came on the last day of the season at Genoa, in the last five minutes. They had a 12 point gap over runners-up Milan, while Juventus finished the season 20 points behind Fiorentina. The Viola conceded just 20 goals over the course of a 34 game campaign. Giuseppe Virgili ended the season with 21 league goals to his name.
We have just one more double win over Juventus to look back on, and it too came in another historic season for Fiorentina. In the 1968/69 season, Juventus arrived in Florence on January 19th 1969, for the second last game of the first half of the season. The week before, Fiorentina’s win at Pisa had allowed them join Cagliari at the top of the table on 20 points. Both Cagliari and Milan had drawn their games that day, so Fiorentina moved a point ahead of Milan, Juventus meanwhile had won at the San Siro against Inter, and were five points behind the leaders.
A crowd of over 50,000 packed into the Comunale, with fans arriving since 11am that morning for the big game. That crowd included former Fiorentina player and manager, Ferruccio Valcareggi, now in charge of the Italian national team. Mario Maraschi had an early chance saved by Giuliano Sarti, yes the same Sarti that had won the Scudetto with Fiorentina back in 1956 was now between the posts for the bianconeri.
After 19 minutes, Fiorentina did put the ball in Sarti’s net, but Maraschi’s goal was, for no clear reason, disallowed by the referee Fabio Monti. The fans only needed to wait another minute before they could celebrate a goal, with captain Giancarlo De Sisti firing home from outside the area. Juventus only managed to create a couple of half chances, easily dealt with by Franco Superchi in the Fiorentina goal.
There was bad news for the home side at the end of the opening half, when Claudio Merlo went off with an ankle injury. He was replaced for the second half by Pierluigi Cencetti. Sarti made a good save from Salvatore Esposito shortly after the break, but Juventus were starting to find their rhythm. They too had a goal ruled out for offside, but after 14 minutes they did level the game. German Helmut Haller went past three Fiorentina players before crossing to the middle for Gianfranco Zigoni, who only needed to tap it home from close range.
The away side almost took the lead before the half hour mark in the second half. A shot was deflected by Fiorentina defender Giuseppe Brizi, but Superchi made a fine save. From the keeper’s kick-out, Fiorentina attacked at the other end, Amarildo played a pass across the area to Maraschi, who made no mistake. This proved to be the winning goal, and that 2-1 win allowed Fiorentina to keep pace with a Cagliari side who won away to Sampdoria. Milan had drawn at Napoli and were now two points behind the leaders, while Juventus slipped to fifth place, seven points adrift. Their manager, Heriberto Herrera, was met with a group of angry fans on their return to Torino the following morning, shouting that they had organized a collection to send him back to Paraguay.
A draw the following week at Varese for the Viola, allowed Cagliari to claim the title of winter champions with their win over Atalanta. By the time Fiorentina traveled to face Juventus on the penultimate day of the campaign, the destination of the Scudetto was in their own hands. Milan had drawn the day before at home to Napoli, leaving the Viola with a one point advantage. A win in Turin would give the title to Fiorentina, no matter what Cagliari, three points behind, managed against Sampdoria.
The sides went in at the break with the game still scoreless, largely due to Superchi in the Fiorentina goal. He pulled off two great saves from Menichelli, in front of the 65,000 fans at the Comunale. With just three minutes gone in the second half, Amarildo’s free-kick was fumbled by the Juve keeper. This time Sarti was on the bench and it was Roberto Anzolin who gifted the ball to Luciano Chiarugi who was quickest to react to the dropped ball. The 10,000 fans who had made their way here from Florence could finally start to celebrate.
Twenty minutes later they cheered even louder, when Chiarugi turned provider, and his pass was struck home by Mario Maraschi. This was his fourteenth goal of the season and Bruno Pesaola’s team could finally see the finish line. This will remain the most important victory over Juventus, the one that gave the club it’s second Scudetto, and it was certainly the most celebrated.
While those in the stadium were able to cheer their team off the pitch, back in Florence, as news filtered through, the streets of the city were filled with fans celebrating their team’s victory. They would wait long into the night to greet their heroes upon their return from Turin, and the celebrations continued a week later on the final day of the season.
A 3-1 win over Varese, as Fiorentina closed the campaign in style. Police tried to keep the calm as fans had already started invading the pitch before the final whistle.
A win this Sunday for Fiorentina won’t bring about any mass celebrations and certainly won’t result in another Scudetto. It would however be a major step towards safety in Serie A, which is the most Viola followers can hope for these days. That, and a fourth double over Juventus, would at least give some sense to yet another season of nothingness.