If you watched the Fiorentina Primavera beat Atalanta 1-0 in the Coppa Italia yesterday, you watched a little bit of history: it was the fourth (!) straight year that the Viola won the cup. That’s never happened since the Coppa Italia Primavera began in 1972; Inter Milan won three in a row from 1976 to 1978 and Torino repeated the feat in 1988 to 1990, but Fiorentina now stands alone. The win also pushes them into a tie with Torino for most Coppe Italia Primavera ever won, with 8 (including 5 in the past 12 years).
The game itself (here in its entirety) was about as tense as you’d like out of a cup final. Atalanta came out the door and controlled play for the most part, pushing Fiorentina deep and forcing them to attack mostly through long balls on the counter. While la Dea mostly dominated territory, the Viola occasionally ventured forward and caused problems, even though they couldn’t ever quite find the final pass and didn’t work Jacopo Sassi’s goal overmuch.
That pattern held through 92 minutes until the breakthrough came: the impressive Filippo di Stefano latched onto a long ball down the left and hammered his angled shot on target. The rebound evaded the onrushing Eljon Toci but not Giovanni Corradini, who’d ghosted into the area alone and hammered the ball home via a big deflection off Federico Zuccon before peeling off to get mobbed by his teammates and send Fiorentina to the podium to collect the Coppa.
Goalkeeper Gabriele Fogli was outstanding, making several fantastic saves throughout and showing a really impressive command of his area that belied his status as the number two custodian behind Ivan Andonov. Toci’s holdup play was superb, serving as an outlet for long passes and holding up play to let his team move up the field. Dimo Krastev, who’s grown into his new position after some initial trouble moving out of defense, was a wall in central defense. And Corradini provided the moment of magic that the absent Alessandro Bianco usually conjures.
Manager Alberto Aquilani now has a case as the most successful youth manager currently operating in Italy, given that he’s won this trophy every single year of his tenure. While his team has lost 2 in a row and is hanging onto the final playoff place in 6th with just 2 games left, you can’t question his ability to coach a tournament run; winning the thing four times means we’re well beyond the territory where you can think this is a fluke.
If nothing else, it shows that the future is very bright for the Primavera, which continues to produce talent at a remarkable rate. There are several players in this squad who have a legitimate shot at breaking through, and it’ll be fun to watch them. That’s stuff for the future. Today belongs to these players and this team and the indelible place they’ve carved out for themselves in the history of calcio. The senior team’s trophy cabinet may not have many additions of late, but the Primavera have more than made up for that.