As we head into the month of May, it usually means the season is coming to an end. With just four games remaining, Sunday’s trip to the San Siro is our penultimate away game of this campaign. Fiorentina will take on top of the table Milan, and while our hosts are involved in the high pressured Scudetto race with neighbours Inter, the Viola at this stage of the season do still have something to play for, and it’s not survival. Despite the dark cloud which seems to have descended over many fans, and the dampened spirits after our recent defeats, we are still very much in the chase for a qualification spot for Europe.
I personally prefer the fact that we are travelling to take on one of the top clubs and I’m more optimistic of getting something from this game than I was before the trip to Salerno. This will be our 82nd game away to Milan in Serie A, and with 13 wins in all that time it may not seem like history is on our side. Recent history however, has seen us win two of the last three games away to Milan, and as the late Meat Loaf often reminded us, don’t be sad, ‘cause two out of three ain’t bad!
December 2018, and current Milan manager Stefano Pioli was still in charge at Fiorentina, although he would be gone before the season ended. By the end of that campaign, the Viola would survive relegation on the final day, but when they took on Milan at the San Siro they were looking comfortable in mid-table, while the hosts were in fourth place.
This was a Saturday afternoon game, four days before Christmas, and included in Pioli’s starting eleven were current defenders Cristiano Biraghi and Nikola Milenković, while Bartłomiej Drągowski was on the bench but would shortly be on his way to Empoli on a loan move, unable to dislodge Alban Lafont in the Viola goal.
While Pioli would soon become Milan’s manager, Gennaro Gattuso, then in charge of the San Siro side, would never quite make it as far as becoming Fiorentina’s main man. Ex-Fiorentina player Riccardo Montolivo was on Gattuso’s bench that day, and would fail to make it to the pitch for even one minute of that season. This led to plenty of tension and accusations on the part of Montolivo’s agent against the manager.
While Gattuso was a man under pressure for results, Pioli’s Fiorentina had failed to win a single game away from home so far that season. The last away win came at Genoa in May of that year, and the disastrous streak away from Florence had begun right here at the San Siro on the last day of the previous season. On that occasion, Gattuso’s side had put five past Fiorentina, with three of those coming against Drągowski who had replaced Marco Sportiello at half-time. Fiorentina had even taken the lead in that game, with Giovanni Simeone scoring after 20 minutes. Former Viola player, Nikola Kalinić was among the Milan scorers that day, and so too were Patrick Cutrone, and our current midfielder Jack Bonaventura.
It was Federico Chiesa who scored the only goal of that December game, to give Pioli’s men all three points. Milenković had also made an important goal line intervention from a Hakan Çalhanoğlu shot, and Fiorentina up to seventh place, just two points behind a struggling Milan.
Pioli would leave Fiorentina in tenth place when he resigned in April, and Vincenzo Montella failed to win any of the remaining games when he came in. Despite this, when Rocco Commisso bough the club during the summer, he decided to keep faith with Montella, and looking back now, he didn’t make that bad of a start to the 2019/20 season.
Although Fiorentina lost their opening two games, including a 4-3 home defeat to Napoli, they then drew with both Juventus and Atalanta before a win over Sampdoria. At the end of September came the trip to take on Milan, where Marco Giampaolo had taken over from Gattuso. Fiorentina came away with all three points again, and could even afford a missed penalty by Chiesa as they won 3-1. Erick Pulgar had opened the scoring from the penalty spot, and they increased their lead through Gaetano Castrovilli and Franck Ribéry before Rafael Leão pulled one back for Milan. While Montella would be gone by Christmas, this fifth defeat in six games would bring an end to Giampolo’s time at Milan. He lasted one more game before being replaced by Stefano Pioli.
Montella actually has quite the record with Fiorentina away to Milan, winning there two seasons in a row in his previous, more successful spell at the club. In November 2012 Fiorentina travelled to the San Siro, while in fourth place in the table, seven points ahead of Allegri’s Milan. Another 3-1 win moved Fiorentina ten points ahead of a Milan side down in 13th place. Alberto Aquilani opened the scoring, and when Milan had a chance to level the game from the penalty spot, (rigore per il Milan), Alexandre Pato blasted his effort high above Emiliano Viviano’s goal.
Borja Valero doubled the lead before the break before former Viola Giampaolo Pazzini came off the bench to reduce the deficit. It would be another substitute who settled the game, as Mounir El Hamdaoui replaced Juan Cuadrado, and two minutes from time, his first Fiorentina goal sealed the win. Allegri’s side would recover to battle for the Champions League third place spot with Fiorentina, winning out by two points as Montella had to settle for a Europa League place.
The following season, 2013/14, Fiorentina were again ahead of Milan when the sides met at the San Siro in early November. Montella’s side were in sixth place with Milan six points behind in 11th spot. Montella had to plan without Cuadrado, who had been sent off against Napoli in the previous game. A second yellow card for simulation was appealed, and despite evidence clearly showing that there had been a foul which should have resulted in a penalty, the authorities refused to allow the video evidence to be used and the appeal was refused. This was of course in the pre-VAR days, and it only served to heighten the tension going into this game.
Fiorentina won 2-0 that day, with Juan Vargas and Borja Valero the scorers. Montolivo was in the Milan team, alongside Kaká and Mario Balotelli, while former Milan man Massimo Ambrosini was in Montella’s team. There is one player who took part that day who will still be involved when the two sides meet on Sunday, a young Ricky Saponara came off the bench in the second half for Milan, replacing Sulley Ali Muntari. This time there would be no Milan recovery, as Allegri would get the sack and they finished in eight place, Fiorentina again in fourth.
This was actually the third season in a row that Fiorentina had claimed all three points away to Milan. Before Montella’s double, there had been a more surprising win in the 2011/12 season. That time Allegri was again the beaten man, as Delio Rossi’s side claimed a shock win to put a massive dent in Milan’s title hopes. This win, perhaps out of all our previous ones, shows that anything can happen in football, and that we definitely have more than a slight chance of taking something from Sunday’s game.
Delio Rossi had taken over from Sinisa Mihajlović back in November, and his first game in charge had been a scoreless draw at home to Milan. Since then, Fiorentina had struggled and were now fourth from bottom, while Milan were top of the table, two points ahead of Juventus. The gap between Milan and Fiorentina was 31 points, and the Viola came into this Saturday fixture in April on the back of some very poor results. In the previous four games, their only point came in a draw away to fellow strugglers Genoa, they had lost at Catania and at home to Chievo, and worst of all, they had suffered a 5-0 drubbing in Florence against Juventus.
And yet, despite all this, and after going behind to a Zlatan Ibrahimović penalty (rigore per il Milan), Fiorentina came away with a 2-1 win. Stevan Jovetić levelled the tie early in the second half, and Amauri came on as a sub to score his only goal in a Fiorentina jersey when he netted an 89th minute winner. Amauri had replaced Adem Ljajić, the man who would soon bring an end to Delio Rossi’s time at Fiorentina. To make Milan’s Easter even worse, Juventus won away to Palermo to resurrect their title chances and went a point ahead in the table. They held onto the top spot to claim the Scudetto, while Fiorentina finished in 13th place.
It had been 11 years since Fiorentina had won away to Milan, and in between they had taken some heavy defeats. Roberto Mancini had been the last Viola manager to claim all three points against Milan at the San Siro, back in May 2001. He had replaced Fatih Terim earlier that season, while Milan had also parted ways with Alberto Zaccheroni, with Mauro Tassotti now in charge. Enrico Chiesa scored twice in the opening 20 minutes, and although Andriy Shevchenko pulled one back before the half hour mark, no further goals gave Fiorentina a 2-1 win.
The following season, where Fiorentina would end up both relegated and bankrupt, Chiesa again scored twice at the San Siro on the second day of the season. Unfortunately Milan, now under Terim, scored five. After Fiorentina’s drop to the bottom division, the next time the sides would meet was in December 2004. Emiliano Mondonico had already been sacked, with Sergio Buso now on the Fiorentina bench. Buso looked to be turning things around, with just one defeat in his first seven games, but the trip to Milan was a disaster. They suffered a 6-0 mauling, with Giorgio Chiellini scoring an own goal. Dino Zoff would later take over and Fiorentina survived on the final day of the season, while Carlo Ancelotti’s Milan finished in second place.
Back in 1998, Fiorentina won twice in a row away to Milan. In the 1997/98 season, Alberto Malesani claimed a 2-0 win in January against Fabio Capello’s side. Luis Oliveira and Domenico Morfeo were the scorers, and Fiorentina ended that season in fifth place, 13 points ahead of Milan down in tenth. When the next season started, Giovanni Trapattoni was now on the Fiorentina bench, with Zaccheroni in charge at Milan. The two sides met at the San Siro on the third day of the season in September, with both having won their opening games. Gabriel Batistuta scored a hat-trick as Fiorentina cruised to a 3-1 win, and Bati would go on to score 21 goals that season.
When the sides met in Florence in February, Batistuta suffered a late injury in a scoreless draw. That injury, together with Edmundo’s trip to Rio would contribute to Fiorentina losing their chance to win the Scudetto. Milan claimed the title, while Fiorentina ended up in third place.
Another early season meeting in 1987 saw Fiorentina win at the San Siro, and Milan again go on to win the title. Ramon Díaz and Roberto Baggio netted the goals in a 2-0 win for Sven-Goran Eriksson’s side, over a Milan team which included Ruud Gullit, Marco Van Basten, as well as former Fiorentina keeper Giovanni Galli. This was one of only two defeats for Arrigo Sacchi’s Milan on their way to the Scudetto.
The following season, 1988/89, saw Fiorentina head to Milan on the opening day of the season. There was to be no joy this time around, with Pietro Virdis scoring a hat-trick as Milan won 4-0.
In 1966 Fiorentina again recorded two victories away to Milan. In March Claudio Merlo scored both goals in a 2-1 win, in a game which also saw future Fiorentina player, Amarildo, sent off. The following season, in a December meeting, Kurt Hamrin and Mario Brugnera were the scorers in a 2-0 win.
In both those seasons Fiorentina did the double over Milan, and also finished ahead of them in the table. It was their previous victory away to Milan however, which will be remembered more, as it came in the season of Fiorentina’s first Scudetto win.
On December 4th 1955, going into the San Siro clash, Fiorentina were the early league leaders after nine games. They held a one point lead over Inter, with Milan a further three points back. Roma, Sampdoria, and Torino were in between the two Milanese sides in the table. Fulvio Bernardini’s side showed they were definite title contenders when they came away with both points, as Miguel Montuori and Giuseppe Virgili scored in quick succession in the opening quarter of an hour. That 2-0 win, coupled with Inter’s defeat at Roma, meant Fiorentina’s lead was extended to three points, with Milan now six points adrift.
Fiorentina later defeated Milan 3-0 in Florence as they romped to the league title, finishing 12 points ahead of Milan who were runners-up. That win on their way to the Scudetto was only Fiorentina’s second ever win away to Milan, but it was our first victory over them at the San Siro.
Our first ever league win against Milan had come back in 1942. With the Second World War sweeping the continent, Serie A continued for the 1942/43 season. Fiorentina travelled to Milan on day four of the season in October, but as in the previous season, electricity problems meant that there were no trams running to the San Siro stadium. With fans facing great difficulty in reaching the ground, it had been decided to move their games to the Arena Civica. That stadium had been in use since 1807, and you can still catch a game there, as it hosts the home matches of fan owned club, Brera FC, along with those of Serie D club Alcione.
(Supporters of Milan football club attending the presentation of the new team with the new president Silvio Berlusconi on the steps of the Arena Civica. The team arrived by helicopters, accompanied by the Ride of the Valkyries theme. A banner of the Commandos Tigre saying Thanks to Silvio hanging above them. Milan (Italy), 18th July 1986)
Back in 1942, both Milan (at the time called Milano) and Inter (then known as Ambrosiana-Inter) were sharing the historic ground. Milan hosted Fiorentina in October, and Angelo Bolano, who had been with the Milan side the previous season, opened the scoring. That goal was scored against 16-year-old keeper Giuseppe Sacchi, making his only appearance that season. He was filling in for Giovanni Rossetti, hit by a family bereavement, and a man known to keep a flagon of wine by his goal to take a quick drink while the ball was at the other end of the pitch. Piero Suppi then doubled the Viola’s lead, before an Enrico Boniforti penalty (yes, even back then, rigore per il Milan) made it 2-1 just before the break. In the second half there would be just one more goal, and it was Renato Gei who netted Fiorentina’s third to claim their first ever away win against Milan.
On the previous ten occasions, Fiorentina had never managed to take full points when they travelled to take on Milan. Which brings us to the end of our story, where we finish up right at the beginning. Fiorentina made their debut in Serie A in the 1931/32 season, and our first ever fixture in the top division came on September 20th 1931. This was the first season that we would play at our new stadium, now the Artemio Franchi but then called the Stadio Giovanni Berta. For our first historic Serie A game however, Fiorentina would need to travel, and that game took place, at the San Siro, against Milan.
Many Viola fans travelled that day, as a special train was scheduled for the big occasion. While many of the top sides had strengthened their squad with South American players, Milan stuck to Italians. Newly promoted Fiorentina showed they had big intentions by signing Pedro Petrone. The forward had won the very first World Cup with Uruguay just a year previously, and also had two Olympic gold medals to his name. Petrone would score 25 goals in that first season, making him the league’s top scorer alongside Bologna’s Angelo Schiavio.
Mario Magnozzi, a Livorno man, opened the scoring for Milan inside the opening 20 minutes. They needed to wait until fifteen minutes from time, but finally the visiting Viola fans had something to cheer about. Gastone Prendato was another new signing, coming from Padova. The previous season he had been the top scorer in Serie B with 25 goals for his former club, but it was Fiorentina who won the division, and promotion. It was his corner which went into the Milan goal to earn a draw for Fiorentina, and although Giuseppe Galluzzi may have got a slight touch on the ball before it went in, the goal was awarded to Prendato.
Nothing to separate the sides at the San Siro, and there was nothing to divide them in the table either. Fiorentina did win the return game 3-0 in Florence, but the sides finished level on points in fourth place, an excellent start to Fiorentina’s life in Serie A. So, as we’ve seen, there may not be many wins away to Milan to remember, but we’ve often gone there and come away with a good result, against all the odds.