As Manchester City get set to face Fiorentina in the Champions League this week, here’s an introduction to the Italian Serie A club
A Brief History
Florence, Firenze, a city admired all around the world for its beauty, its history, its monuments, its art, and of course, its football club’s purple jerseys.
La Viola, as Fiorentina are known in Italy, is a club that has been in existence since 1926. The club took almost 90 years however before it decided to add a women’s team.
Since the Serie A for women started back in 1968, there has been a club based in Florence involved in the Italian league. The very first club was Giovani Viola, a club formed in 1965.
Over the years the name has changed, usually, do to with sponsors. From Fiorentina Elletroplaid to Fiorentina Pool until a new club was formed in 1979, Oltrarno Firenze.Embed from Getty Images
Oltrarno made their first appearance in the top flight in 1984. It then became Mukilatte Firenze and Firenze Casa 77 before reverting back to Oltrarno and finally Firenze in 1990. By 1993/94 the club decided to drop out of top-flight football and they would not make a return until the 2006/07 season.
Part of that squad was a young Florence native, Alia Guagni. Alia would still be at the club when Fiorentina decided to take Firenze’s place in Serie A.
The Italian football authorities, in a move to strengthen the women’s game, gave the major clubs the possibility to take over an existing club and also keep that club’s place in whatever division they were in at the time.
Fiorentina then, became the first major club to enter Serie A, when they took Firenze’s place for the 2015/16 season.Embed from Getty Images
A lot of the Firenze squad were kept on by the new club, including Alia Guagni. The club also brought in one of the all-time top scorers in Italian football, Patrizia Panico.
In what would be her final season as a player, she scored 20 goals in 21 league games. Some of the players from that first season as Fiorentina that are still with the club include Greta Adami, Alice Tortelli and Valery Vigilucci.
That first season ended with a third-place finish for Fiorentina. They narrowly missed out on a first ever Champions League place, relinquishing the runners-up spot on the last day of the season when they lost to Verona. Before the start of Fiorentina’s second season, the club showed their ambition by bringing in quite a few top players.
Ilaria Mauro, Tatiana Bonetti, Elena Linari and Elisa Bartoli all joined the squad as did Swedish goalkeeper Stéphanie Öhrström, who signed from Verona.
We Are The Champions
The investment paid off, as the club brought not only the first-ever Serie A women’s title to the city but also the first-ever Coppa Italia, as Fiorentina marched to a historic double win. In the league, they lost just once all season and won every other game. They scored 88 goals in those 22 matches and conceded just seven times.
In the end, they had eight points to spare over the previous season’s champions, Brescia. On May 6th, the penultimate matchday of the season, they celebrated winning the Scudetto in front of over 9,000 fans at the Stadio Artemio Franchi. The team also defeated Brescia in the Coppa Italia final thanks to an early goal from Alia Guagni.Embed from Getty Images
Champions League Danish Debut
The 2017/18 season began with a loss to Brescia as the club lost out on the Supercoppa. They did have their revenge, however, in the Coppa Italia when they again, defeated Brescia in the final as they lifted the trophy for the second season in a row.
Their first ever Champions League campaign began with a 2-1 win at home to Danish club Fortuna. A scoreless draw in the second leg took them into the last sixteen where they would face Wolfsburg.
A scoreless first half at home gave the team plenty of hope, but the German giants came out and scored four without reply after the break. Fiorentina did manage a 3-3 draw away from home against the eventual finalists but it wasn’t enough to see them progress.
Since that first league title for the club, Juventus have since entered Italian women’s football and have won all three championships since their arrival.
When the sides met at the Juventus stadium in March 2019, it was seen as the title decider. Juventus had a one-point lead at this stage, and a crowd of almost 40,000 turned out to see them record a 1-0 win and Fiorentina would eventually lose out on the Scudetto by one point.Embed from Getty Images
That season was a real battle between the two sides. Fiorentina had started off by winning the Supercoppa with a 1-0 win over their Turin rivals. Juventus would end up winning the double, however, as they beat Fiorentina in the Coppa Italia final.
Fiorentina in that 2018/19 season would be drawn to meet Fortuna again in the Champions League. Yet again, it was the Viola who would qualify for the last sixteen. This time they won both legs with a 2-0 scoreline. In the second leg, it was Scottish striker Lana Clelland who scored both goals.
Their reward was a Round of 16 clash with Chelsea. The first leg gave Fiorentina plenty of encouragement as Chelsea struggled to a 1-0 win. Karen Carney’s early penalty was the only goal of that game. When the Londoners travelled to Florence two weeks later, however, it was a totally different story.
Chelsea scored twice in the first half and eventually ran out comfortable 6-0 winners. Fran Kirby scored a hat-trick that evening at the Franchi stadium.
Last season Fiorentina were handed a tough draw straight away in Europe. Another English side, Arsenal, would make the trip to Florence. The tie was all over after the first leg, as Fiorentina went down 4-0 at home. Arsenal won the second leg 2-0 back in London, and Fiorentina’s European adventure was over prematurely for another season.Embed from Getty Images
The Italian league last season was of course cut short. When the decision was eventually made not to continue on with the campaign, Fiorentina had done enough to qualify for the Champions League once again.
The long gap between last season finishing and this season beginning would also bring about a lot of changes within the squad.
Join us for Part Two, where we’ll be taking a look at how Fiorentina have been doing this season, and introduce you to the current squad