Fiorentina v Torino, friends off the pitch, but it can often be a real battle on the field of play. We saw that last season in Turin, when Fiorentina had both Gaetano Castrovilli and Nikola Milenković sent off in what turned out to be a bad-tempered affair. The game I’m going to take a look back at is a high scoring dramatic game from a season where Fiorentina made a big improvement on the previous three campaigns, with a new man in charge.
The 2012/13 season saw the arrival of Vincenzo Montella to the Fiorentina bench. After the disaster of Siniša Mihajlović and the drama of Delio Rossi, it was a time of change at the club. The summer transfer window saw the arrival of players such as Borja Valero, Alberto Aquilani, Juan Cuadrado, David Pizarro and Stefan Savić. It also saw the return of Luca Toni to Florence, while those who left included Matija Nastasić, Artur Boruc, Valon Behrami, Riccardo Montolivo, while Alessio Cerci was now with Torino.
When the Granata arrived in Florence in late April 2013, the Viola were on fourth place, and pushing Milan for third spot which would give them Champions League football. Newly promoted Torino meanwhile, were down in the bottom half of the table, but almost safe at this stage of the season. Apart from Cerci, they also had another ex-Viola player, Mario Santana, in their starting eleven at the Stadio Franchi.
Fiorentina lined up with Florence born Emilliano Viviano in goal and in front of him was another new arrival Gonzalo Rodríguez, alongside Savić, Marvin Compper and Nenad Tomović. The rest of the team was made up of Valero, Cuadrado, Pizarro, Aquilani, Adam Ljajić and Marcelo Larrondo. The bench included Luca Toni, a not fully fit Stevan Jovetić, Facundo Roncaglia, and a young Federico Bernardeschi. Torino, along with Cerci and Santana, had Polish international Kamil Glik, and Matteo Darmian in their line-up.
Fiorentina got off to the perfect start, opening the scoring after just eight minutes. Ljajić played a pass across to Cuadrado, he rounded Santana and from just inside the area he chipped the ball beautifully, and although Belgian keeper Jean François Gillet got a hand to it he couldn’t keep the shot out of the net.
Eight minutes later and the lead was doubled, Borja Valero’s cross into the area was powerfully headed home by Aquilani. When Ljajić’s free-kick was perfectly curled into the top corner after 33 minutes, the game already looked well and truly over.
Just before the break Torino did manage to pull one back. Santana showed his class when dribbling towards the area before laying off a pass to Barreto who drove the ball home from the edge of the box.
Eleven minutes after the interval and Torino were definitely back in the game. Another shot from just outside the area, and this time it was Santana who scored, with the former Fiorentina man refusing to celebrate. With the game now at 3-2, Montella made two changes, first replacing Ljajić with Mati Fernández, and then sending on Rômulo for Aquilani. It was Torino though who struck again, and this time it was another ex who did the damage. Alessio Cerci, who in his time at Fiorentina had often been the target of abuse from the home fans, scored undoubtedly the goal of the game. From outside the area, his left footed shot was perfectly struck and sailed past Viviano and into the corner of the net.
Montella had already warned before the game that Cerci was now playing much better under Gian Piero Ventura, who had already managed the player at Pisa. Having let a three goal lead slip, the atmosphere had changed completely. A draw was not what was needed at this stage of the season, and with Milan playing Juventus later that evening, Fiorentina needed all three points to keep the pressure on Massimiliano Allegri’s side. With less than ten minutes left in the game, Montella made his last change as Mounir El Hamdaoui replaced the ineffective Larrondo. Five minutes later he combined in the box with Rômulo who won the game with his second goal of the season. It was his first goal since September and it gave Fiorentina the win they desperately needed and had almost thrown away.
Milan would lose that evening which left Fiorentina breathing down their necks, just a point behind. Although Montella’s side would go on to win four out of their last five games, it was another goal by an ex player which would cost them. Dani Osvaldo scored the only goal of the game when Roma came to Florence two weeks after the Torino game. Fiorentina finished two points behind Milan in the end, but fourth place was a massive improvement from the previous year and after a three season absence they would now return to European competition. The Montella era had well and truly begun, and he would take the club to three consecutive fourth place finishes.
Torino have only won nine games out of 72 in Serie A matches in Florence. For their last league win here, we need to go back to the 1976/77 campaign, when for the second consecutive season Torino came away with a 1-0 win. On both those occasions the only goal of the game was scored by future Fiorentina star, Ciccio Graziani. There is a more recent Torino win at the Franchi, but that was in the Coppa Italia in 2008 when Rolando Bianchi sent his side into the quarterfinals. When the sides met in Florence last season, it was on opening day, and a Gaetano Castrovilli goal gave Fiorentina all three points.
Just like in 2012/13, this season also brings a new manager to the club, some new investment in the squad, and comes after a few disappointing campaigns. I’m pretty optimistic that this season, we will see a big change in fortunes for Fiorentina.