WITH JUVENTUS suffering from “Chelsea syndrome” and the Milan duo once more showing their vulnerability, it appears Serie A might be “up for grabs” this season. And leading the grabbers is none other than Fiorentina, who last won the Scudetto in the halcyon days of catenaccio in 1968-69.
The Viola created shock waves in the San Siro last weekend with a 4-1 win against leaders and previously unbeaten Internazionale. Fiorentina hit the top of the table for the first time since 1999, continuing the momentum of the last three seasons when they finished fourth in the table. It’s early days, but they are already 10 points clear of Juve, who have struggled to get started after losing a handful of players in the summer.
But Fiorentina have also had a period of disruption to contend with. Paulo Sousa, the former Juve, Inter and Portugal midfielder, was appointed in the summer after Vincenzo Montella was sacked by the club. Montella, who had a good record during his time in charge, had questioned the ambition of the Fiorentina board, which prompted his employers to accuse him of showing “a lack of respect”.
Fiorentina had become a “selling club” and had lost a few players in the close season, notably defender Stefan Savic, who moved to Atletico Madrid for £ 17.5m. The club spent around £ 18m on new faces, including Atletico Madrid’s midfielder Mario Suarez and striker Nikola Kalinic from Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk.
Kalinic scored three of Fiorentina’s four goals in their demolition of Inter. The Croatian has described his performance as the “best game of my life” as he became the first player from his country to score a Serie A hat-trick since Alen Boksic in 1995.
Fiorentina may be unfashionable leaders, but this could the season that the Juve monopoly is broken. Take a look at the Serie A table and ask yourself, if not Juve, then who? Inter were considered to be contenders after their best start to a season in almost half a century, but Fiorentina ripped a hole in their credentials. And this week, Fiorentina were on top form as they won 4-0 away at Belenenses in the Europa League.
Fiorentina’s Serie A record this season
|August 23||AC Milan||Home||W2-0||Alonso, Ilicic|
|September 23||Bologna||Home||W2-0||Blaszczykowski, Kalinic|
|September 27||Inter||Away||W4-1||Ilicic, Kalinic 3|
Juventus have won the past four championships, but already a fifth consecutive Scudetto is looking unlikely. Italy needs a more competitive Serie A, indeed a number of countries could benefit from a little more democracy in their football leagues. A title win by Fiorentina, Lazio, Roma or even the Milanese will do a lot to remind people that Italian football there is more to Serie A than black and white stripes.
Champions of the top five European leagues – 2010-11 to 2014-15
|2014-15||Chelsea||Paris St Germain||Bayern Munich||Juventus||Barcelona|
|2013-14||Manchester City||Paris St Germain||Bayern Munich||Juventus||Atletico Madrid|
|2012-13||Manchester United||Paris St Germain||Bayern Munich||Juventus||Barcelona|
|2011-12||Manchester City||Montpellier||Borussia Dortmund||Juventus||Real Madrid|
|2010-11||Manchester United||Lille||Borussia Dortmund||AC Milan||Barcelona|