This post covers the middle part of Fiorentina’s season, from Game 8.
The Middle Game eight was Fiorentina’s first game against the newly-renamed Liguria (Sampierdarenese being discarded before the start of the season but perhaps giving you a better idea as to who they are now) and only the second time Bortolini and promising winger Mannelli featured in the same starting line-up. It also brought the return of Gazzari after two games out, replacing Lomi. The full-strength line-up started off dominantly, and found the Ligurian defence stubborn, but once Barberis broke the deadlock after 23 minutes, the visitors resilience crumbled, and it was 3-0 at the break, Bortolini himself adding the other two (29, 43) before a more relaxed second period allowed Liguria back into the game, Crola pulling one back after 53 minutes, but the Genovans not making any other headway. That meant Fiorentina had four points in four games – their best run of the season so far.
8. 7/11/1937 – Liguria (H) W 3-1 – P8 W2 D2 L4 F8 A17 Pts 6 Pos 10
The next week, in Lucca, saw Ottavio Baccani field an unchanged line-up for the first time, as Alfonso Negro missed his third game in a row. This game saw the dismissal of Barberis, and all the goals came – for a change – after the break; Lucchese taking the lead early in the second half, before being pegged back by Viani’s second of the season, before, eventually, Romagnoli broke Viola resistance in the 66th minute, and ending the scoring at 2-1 to the home team. It was to be an eventful season for Viani, and this was the start of it in earnest.
9. 14/11/1937 – Lucchese (A) L 2-1 – P9 W2 D2 L5 F9 A19 Pts 6 Pos 11
The fighting spirit was evident in spades in the 10th match of the season, at home to Triestina, as Fiorentina sunk to a 0-2 deficit at half time, before pulling back the goals back in the 82nd and 88th minute. It was also evident in spades in the fact that both teams had two men dismissed; Traversa and Viani (told you he would have an eventful season) being sent from the field for the Viola, and Chizzo and Rancilio for Triestina – the latter being a defender, it might go some way to explain Fiorentina’s rapid fightback at the end; its also worth noting that already, in Piziolo, Fiorentina were using their 17th player of the season, only 10 games in. Squad rotation come early.
10. 21/11/1937 – Triestina (H) D 2-2 – P10 W2 D3 L5 F11 A21 Pts 7 Pos 11=
The next game – joint second placed Torino in Turin – saw Ancillotti return to the Viola’s starting line-up that saw Traversa miss his only game of the season; absentees also included Gazzari, Negro and Magli (missing again after last week), which might well explain the two quick fire goals. La Stampa noted how, despite the promise of the Florentine Primavera team of a couple of years ago, it had not flowered into a great first team and how, because so many of the first team are so young, that when heads drop, and mistakes come, they come not single spies but in battalions. Against Torino, and against Baldi, that was not good enough – the slick passing triangle of Ferrero, Palombi and Baldi creating a difficult chance for the latter after 26 minutes, only for him to rap the ball against the crossbar and in. The second followed a few minutes later, though Torino hadn’t really dominated the first half. They did dominate the second, at least in terms of shots (seven to one) but couldn’t extend their lead as the young pups stood firm for their 2-0 reverse while Napoli were beating Lazio 1-0 to leapfrog the Viola.
11. 28/11/1937 – Torino (A) L 0-2 – P11 W2 D3 L6 F11 A24 Pts 7 Pos 13
There followed at this point a quick break for the last 32 of the Coppa Italia. Fiorentina drew the first game in Liguria, 1-1, but in the replay back at the Comunale, lost 2-3 in extra time, Peretti grabbing to crucial goal after 104 minutes after both Viani and Zanni had scored twice. End of the intermission, then.
The fixture list remained unkind, as Fiorentina next visited Milan, joint third, in the next game; a Milan side who had only been defeated by city rivals and league leaders Ambrosiana and Torino previously, and were coming off the back of a 1-2 victory in Lucca. In truth, sticking with Milan until nearly half time deserves some kind of credit, and Tori’s own goal only cancelled a first goal for Mannelli in Florentine colours, it took a penalty for Milan to grab the lead, and a late goal on the break from Moretti added a little shine to the Rossoneri victory; it was no disgrace, but then so few games were ending in disgrace, just inexperience and poor decision-making leading to bad results, but happening regularly now, as Lucchese’s draw with Napoli took them, too, above the Viola.
12. 12.12.1937 – Milan (A) L 1-3 – P12 W2 D3 L7 F12 A27 Pts 7 Pos 14
What you would want after two defeats in a row at teams highly ranked in the league, I imagine, would be a home game against the team who were bottom of the league and, happily, the fixture calendar obliged with an early Christmas present in the form of Livorno; a Livorno side with only one win so far. If that didn’t ring alarm bells, then certainly the first half, which finished with the two sides level pegging and neither looking like they would be able to profit from the heavy, wet turf underfoot, must have caused alarm in a public who were already worrying that their young team might not be fulfilling their potential. Confirmation of that came in the second period, as first Pomponi, then Capaccioli, both from the right hand side, profited with goals. The sole Viola reply, a first penalty of the season converted by Traversa, was not enough to stop the visitors claiming the points, and claiming the place above them in the league. For the first time, Fiorentina were in the relegation zone. Merry Christmas!
13 19.12.1937 – Livorno (H) L 1-2 – P13 W2 D3 L8 F13 A29 Pts 7 Pos 15
Into 1938, then, and the visit of Lazio to the Comunale. Lazio were fourth in the table and featured the mercurial Silvio Piola in their ranks and had won their last two games by a combined score of 10-0 (6-0 v. Torino, and 4-0. v. Atalanta (Piola had scored four across the two games). They would prove a test, but as with so many games, the Viola tore into the Laziale, thinking they’d gone ahead through Negro after only 3 minutes, only to see the goal chalked off. It took Alfonso another 24 minutes to right that wrong, but he finally did open the scoring for Fiorentina. That was a lead that was held until well into the second half, when Busani (who had scored the first of those 10 goals) equalised and the Viola, with Viani missing up front, lacked the finesse to get back ahead; the game finishing in a creditable 1-1 draw, and the home side pulling level with Lucchese and Livorno on eight points with a winnable game next week.
14 2.1.1938 – Lazio (H) D 1-1 – P14 W2 D4 L8 F14 A30 Pts 8 Pos 13=
The press were building up Atalanta’s visit to the Comunale as a real relegation scrap, and a real scrap it turned out to be. It closed the Andata (opening ) half of the season, and it closes the middle part of my season report. In a real tussle between struggling teams whose paths would cross pretty regularly over the next few seasons, Fiorentina’s young guns struck first early in the second half, with a penalty from Traversa (his second in three games) but, once again, couldn’t hold onto that lead for the duration, allowing Atalanta a reprieve through Ciancamerla to leave both teams stranded in the bottom four – by this stage it was already obvious that the two relegated sides would be one of these four; Fiorentina and Lucchese went into the second half of the season with 9 points, and Livorno and Atalanta both with 8 points – the team ahead of them, Liguria, had 13 points (two wins in those days) and none of those teams had won more than two games all season.
15 9.1.1938 – Atalanta (H) D 1-1 – P15 W2 D5 L8 F15 A31 Pts 9 Pos 13=
I leave you then, once again, with Fiorentina’s points and position chart (above), and the league table at the end of the Andata games of 1937/38 (below). All hope for the Viola was not by any means lost, but they were most definitely in a scrap. Join me next time to see how they got on.