Last night Venezia came through the play-off final to make a return to Serie A after 19 years. Down to nine players by the end of the second leg, and with Cittadella needing just one more goal to win promotion, it was Venezia who scored in injury time to finish off the tie.
Venezia sta sull’acqua e muore piano piano
That last season in the top flight, 2001/02, was a disastrous one for both Venezia and Fiorentina. Cesare Prandelli had taken the Venice side from Serie B the previous season, but by October, Maurizio Zamparini decided it was time for a change. In those first six games, Venezia had failed to collect a single point. It also included a 3-1 defeat in Florence, a game which would have a massive impact on the rest of Fiorentina’s season.
For a side already struggling, losing their top scorer Enrico Chiesa to serious injury was a killer blow. Roberto Mancini’s side would almost certainly have had to battle against relegation anyway, but with the goals of Chiesa they would at least have had more of a fighting chance. Chiesa had scored 22 league goals the previous season, and his early goal against Venezia at the end of September was already his fifth goal in five Serie A games. That game would turn out be his last ever in a Fiorentina shirt.
By the time the sides met again in Venice in February, Venezia still occupied the bottom spot while Fiorentina were just ahead of them. With Mancini now gone, Ottavio Bianchi’s side had managed a 2-2 draw with league leaders Roma the previous week, but they were still six points away from safety. Venezia had also drawn their game at Bologna the week before, but had 11 points to make up in their fight for survival.
The man of the match in the game between Venezia and Fiorentina, was the home side’s goalkeeper, Generoso Rossi. He was in no mood to gift any points to the away side, and his saves from Adriano, Marco Franceschetti, Domenico Morfeo and Ezequiel González were fundamental in helping Venezia keep their guests scoreless and record a 2-0 win. The goals came from Gerardo Magallanes and Filippo Maniero, while referee Roberto Rosetti denied Fiorentina a penalty after a clear handball by Kewullay Conteh. Rosetti also showed a red card to Giuseppe Iachini late in the game.
Beppe was on the Venezia bench at the time, his official title was team manager with Alfredo Magni in charge. He had been a Venezia player up until 2000, and Zamparini wanted him back at the club as manager. Unfortunately Beppe did not yet have the license needed, and was also assistant to Walter Novellino at the time at Piacenza. In the end Iachini would receive a 5 month ban from the Italian football authorities for breaching their rules.
Com’è triste Venezia
Soltanto un anno dopo
That loss left Fiorentina now seven points adrift of the safety zone, with Venezia just two points behind. That win over Fiorentina would turn out to be Venezia’s last ever win in Serie A. They only managed to pick up a further three points in the remaining 12 games. Fiorentina didn’t fare much better, only winning one game in that time and both sides remained rooted to the foot of the table until the end.
Mi son tornà da ti
While the following season would see Venezia compete in Serie B again, after just one season in Serie A, Fiorentina of course would need to start from Serie C2 after going bust. The sides would meet up again in Serie B in 2003/04. When Venezia arrived at the Stadio Artemio Franchi in December 2003, they were on a run of nine games without defeat. This had allowed them slowly move up the table and were level on points with Fiorentina. Alberto Cavasin’s side had lost 4-0 at Ascoli the previous week, and their push for promotion back to Serie A was looking seriously at risk of ending in failure.
The man in charge of the Venezia side was Angelo Gregucci, who had been a part of Roberto Mancini’s backroom staff at Fiorentina. His assistant now at Venezia was Marco Franceschetti, he was a part of the Fiorentina team which lost to Venezia back in 2002. By the end of this game, the sides were still level on points, a 1-1 draw which only drew insults from the home crowd. The visitors took the lead after 24 minutes, through an own goal by Roberto Ripa.
Fiorentina’s poor display put Cavasin under more pressure, although Diego Della Valle insisted he would stick with his manager until after the January transfer window when some new players would arrive to boost the squad. The fans let the owner know that in order to win, they needed to spend. Fiorentina only managed to level the game thanks to a Christian Riganò penalty five minutes from time. That draw left both sides closer to relegation than to the promotion places, with eleven sides now ahead of them.
Which brings us to the last time the two sides met, May 15th 2004. By this time Emiliano Mondonico had taken over from Cavasin and had taken Fiorentina 15 points ahead of Venezia and closer to the promotion zone. A 2-0 win in Venice, with goals from Zīsīs Vryzas and Christian Riganò, took them just a point behind Piacenza who occupied sixth place. By the end of the season, both Fiorentina and Venezia would be involved in play-off games. Fiorentina would get the better of Perugia and return to Serie A, while Venezia would manage to win against Bari to avoid relegation.
Death in Venice
Since that relegation in 2002, while Fiorentina made a swift return to the top flight, Venezia have had a long hard road to make it back. The club has gone bankrupt three times, and twice they have needed to restart from Serie D. Just two seasons ago they were relegated from Serie B, and were only readmitted after the exclusion of Palermo.
O Venezia che sei la più bella
Paolo Zanetti’s side needed to overcome Chievo and Lecce, as well as Cittadella to get through the play off series and win promotion. It’s taken them 19 difficult years but it’s time to welcome back Venezia to Serie A football, under their American owner, Duncan Niederauer.