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It was 19 years ago today, when Fiorentina didn’t even play

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Piacenza v FiorentinaX

April 7th 2002, a doomed Fiorentina team traveled to Piacenza. While Inter Milan, Roma and Juventus were involved in the Scudetto race at the top, the Viola were deep in relegation trouble. With four teams to be relegated, with five games left to play and with Fiorentina eleven points behind Piacenza who were the side just outside the drop zone, there was never really any hope of survival.

With Roberto Mancini having already left the sinking ship back in January, it was now Ottavio Bianchi’s turn to step away from the bench. As a reward for keeping this sinking ship under water, he was now the new president of the club. Luciano Chiarugi, not for the first time, was the man given the impossible task, the man who would need to face the music when relegation inevitably came.

Fiorentina came into this game on the back of four games without a win. The previous Sunday, a home defeat to Inter saw the Curva Fiesole deserted by the fans in protest, not against the team but against Vittorio Cecchi Gori, who was taking the club not just to Serie B, but to a disastrous bankruptcy.

AS Photo Archive Photo by Alessandro Sabattini/Getty Images

Piacenza meanwhile, had managed to gather five points in the previous four games, giving themselves a real chance of survival. Chiarugi decided to replace goalkeeper Alex Manninger with Giuseppe Taglialatela for this game. Manninger had already decided to leave the club at the end of this season, so it made sense to go with a player who declared himself happy to remain in Florence.

Pedrag Mijatović was chosen up front alongside Adriano, with Nuno Gomes out with a slight injury problem, another player who’s bags were already packed. With the caretaker manager stating before the game that they would perform to show respect for the club’s fans and also to save their own dignity, the players had other ideas. Most of the team were now just going through the motions, waiting for the season to end so they could finally get away from a club that was on the brink of disaster.

For a team like Piacenza, still in desperate need of points in order to survive, there could be no better opposition to face than this bunch of Fiorentina players. By half-time, the game was over as a contest, and Fiorentina were all but dead and buried.

The opening goal came from Matuzalém after 28 minutes, his second of the season. Before that, Fiorentina had showed nothing in attack, while Piacenza had already created plenty of chances. The only anger shown by a Viola player came two minutes after that goal. Equi González was replaced by Sandro Cois, and the Argentinian put his fist through the plastic roof of the bench.

Dario Hübner, at almost 35 years of age, was a constant danger for the Fiorentina defense. He had earlier hit the post with a long range shot, and should have scored when he found himself one on one with the keeper. In the 40th minute he turned provider, playing a perfect pass back to Sergio Volpi, whose first time shot from outside the area found the corner of the Fiorentina net.

As the first half went into added time, a corner kick for the home side gave them their third goal of the game. As Taglialatela only got a palm to the ball, it dropped to Hübner who was allowed slip away from his marker, the half-asleep Daniele Adani. The striker tapped in his 22nd goal of the season, and he would go on to top the scoring charts that season, alongside David Trezeguet, with 24 league goals. That was just five goals short of Fiorentina’s total goals scored for the whole season.

Piacenza v Venezia X

The second half could easily have been cancelled, one team without the will to fight, the other who’s job here was done and had no need to do any further damage. Fiorentina’s new president, Bianchi, didn’t even stay to watch after the break.

On the same day, Juventus enjoyed a 4-0 win away to Perugia. This allowed them to close the gap on the two clubs ahead of them, as Inter went down 2-1 at home to Atalanta while Roma drew 2-2 at Venezia. Juventus would go on to win the title on the last day of the season, as for Fiorentina, well they would go on to lose all four remaining games, scoring just one goal. A fitting end to a shocking season, as they finished 20 points behind Piacenza. Fiorentina were the team that scored the least amount of goals in Serie A that season, and also the team that conceded the most.

A season to forget many would say, but with all that came afterwards, it was a season we would always remember.

An AC Fiorentina fan marks the ‘death’ of the club following the news that their club has been relegated from Serie B due to financial problems and will cease to exist. Photo by Grazia Neri/Getty Images