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  • Writer's pictureDag Jenkins

December 27, 1931: Juventus Lazio 1-2

Updated: Dec 27, 2023

Lazio stun reigning Champions Juventus in Turin

Lazio scored two goals in the opening seven minutes to claim a shock win

Source Wikipedia

The season so far

Juventus were reigning champions having won their third scudetto the previous season. The manager Carlo Carcano had been confirmed along with top scorer Raimundo 'Mumo' Orsi, who had scored 20 goals. The Agnelli connection was already going strong with Edoardo Agnelli as President.

This season Juventus had started strongly with 7 wins, 4 draws and one defeat (Roma) and had 18 points.

Lazio the previous year had come in 8th. They had started the season with Hungarian Ferenc Molnar as manager but he was then replaced by Cesare Migliorini. This year they had a new player/manager in Brazilian Amilcar. They had lost top scorer Pietro Pastore (13 goals) who had left for Milan.

The new manager Amilcar was not the only Brazilian connection as Lazio had gone shopping in Brazil big time. In had come defenders Armando Del Debbio (Corinthians), Ezio Enrique Serafini (Palmeiras), Pedro Rizzetti (Palmeiras), midfielder José Castelli (Corinthians) and forwards Alejandro Demaria (Corinthians), Anfilogino Guarisi (Corinthians) and André Emanuel Tedesco (Santos).

Leaving Lazio were Pastore, as mentioned, as well as defender Alfredo Foni (Padova), midfielder Leopoldo Caimmi (Atalanta) plus forward Luigi Ziroli (Palermo).

The season had not got off to a great start for Lazio. They had lost the derby and had only 8 points after 12 games. The result of 3 wins, 2 draws and 7 defeats. The away trip to Juventus was a daunting prospect.

The match: Sunday, December 27, 1931, Stadio di Corso Marsiglia, Turin

Juventus were overwhelming favourites going into this match. They were reigning Champions and already ten points ahead of today's opposition, Lazio.

It was a cold day in Turin and the pitch was not at its best, frozen and slippery in some patches. Juventus were without Mario Varglien I (suspended) and Luigi Bertolini (injured).

Juventus possibly underestimated Lazio and came out too relaxed. Anyway they were already 1-0 down after six minutes. Varglien I wasn't playing but luckily for Lazio his brother Giovanni Varglien II was. Following a long cross from midfield, he and Virginio Rosetta failed to get rid of the ball which fell to Joao Fantoni I at the edge of the box. The Brazilian striker hammered a low shot which went in off the post to make it 1-0 to Lazio.

The home fans didn't seem particularly taken aback as there was still plenty of time for the Champions to remedy this unexpected situation . The 'situation' however got worse only a minute later. It was again Varglien II at fault, this time obstructing the goalkeeper and enabling Aldo Spivach to double Lazio’s lead. Only seven minutes had gone and it was 2-0 to Lazio.

At this point Juventus decided to start taking things more seriously. They attacked in force but, despite a lot of pressure, only really had one clear scoring opportunity. Lazio unexpectedly didn't rest on their laurels and continued to play open, attacking football, confirmed by their eleven corner kicks. It was Juventus though who inevitably pushed forward more and they were rewarded in the 33rd minute. Lazio defender Armando Del Debbio handled the ball in the area for a Juventus penalty. Top scorer Raimundo Orsi turned down the chance to take it, so it was Luis Monti who stepped up, but he put the ball over the bar. The referee however had spotted a Lazio player in the area and so ordered the penalty to be retaken. This time Orsi took charge and made it 2-1.

The second half saw Juventus continue to pile forward but Lazio didn't make the mistake of defending too deep. The goal scoring chances were in fact quite evenly balanced. Juventus went close with a Federico Munerati shot, saved by Ezio Sclavi, while Lazio hit a post with Alejandro Demaria. There was to be no late goal by Renato Cesarini...( see zona cesarini).

Lazio held on to clinch a historic victory. They didn't even have to suffer as much as would have been expected. Their star players had been keeper Sclavi, Marino Furlani, Guarisi, Demaria, Rizzetti and Del Debbio (practically the whole team..but it had been a famous win). For Juventus Monti had a good game (despite missing the penalty, but that turned out to be irrelevant).

Juventus had probably played their worst game of the season so far but nothing should be taken away from Lazio. They were unanimously praised for their performance and in particular for not resorting to overly defensive tactics, even after taking an early double lead.

All in all a thoroughly deserved win for the Roman Biancocelesti.

Who played for Juventus

Combi, Rosetta, Ferrero,Varglien II, Monti, Cesarini, Munerati, Maglio, Vecchina, Ferrari, Orsi

Manager: Carcano

Who played for Lazio

Sclavi, Mattei II, Del Debbio, Rizzetti, Furlani, Serafini, Guarisi, Malatesta, Fantoni I, Spivach, Demaria

Manager: Amilcar

Referee: Dani

Goals: 6' Fantoni I, 7' Spivach, 33' Orsi (pen)

Zona Cesarini

Renato Cesarini, Source Wikipedia

Renato Cesarini was an Italo-Argentine forward who played for Juventus and Italy. His surname has entered into Italian culture in the form of a linguistic expression "in zona Cesarini", meaning in the last possible moment.

He had already scored some late goals in league games but then in an international match against Hungary Cesarini scored a 90th minute equalizer for Italy, for a 3-3 draw. In a league match soon after between Ambrosiana Inter and Roma, a last minute goal was described as "un caso Cesarini" by journalist Eugenio Danese. The expression stuck and was then coined into "in zona Cesarini" also in connection with the game of bridge. The phrase "in zona Cesarini" is still used in football today, but also in many other everyday contexts (e.g you arrive at the supermarket one minute before closing time you can joke, maybe not with the cashier, that you arrived "in zona Cesarini"). Luckily for Lazio Cesarini was not in the zone on 27 December 1931.

What happened next

This would be Lazio's biggest and last away win of the season in Serie A. One week later they beat Brescia 2-0 at home but their season would be poor. They lost the return match to Juventus 3-0 and would end up in 13th place, only two points above the relegation zone (Modena and Brescia went down). They did however finish with a bang, beating Modena 9-1 in the last game of the season. Lazio's top scorer was Guarisi with 12 goals.

Juventus recovered from this shock defeat and won the next five games. They would march towards the title winning most of their matches (including a famous 7-1 against Roma).They lost only two more matches until June and confirmed themselves as Italian Champions. Their top scorer was again Orsi with 20 goals in Serie A.

Lazio 1931-32






Goals scored

Serie A






Top five appearances


Serie A





Del Debbio




Fantoni I


Top goal scorers


Serie A





Fantoni I




Let's talk about Joao Fantoni (Fantoni I)

Joao Fantoni I on the left, Leonizio Fantoni II in the centre and Italo Fratezzi when the Fantoni's played for Palestra Italia. Source Wikipedia

João Fantoni was born in Belo Horizonte, Brazil, on the 24th July, 1905. In Brazil he was known as Ninão, João or Juan.

At 18 he made his debut for Palestra Italia, in Brazil. He played for the team, which would later be known as Cruzeiro, for seven years (1923-1930). He scored 167 goals in 127 games and is their 5th top scorer in history. He has their highest goal per game ratio with 1.31 goals per match. He also holds the record of goals scored in a single match, ten against Alves Nogueira (a record shared with Dadà Maravilha). At Palestra Italia he won 3 Campeonato Mineiro (1928,29, 30).

In 1930 he moved to Europe. He was signed by Lazio, along with his cousin Octavio (Fantoni II). A year later they would be joined by many more Brazilians to make up the team known as Brasilazio. In Rome his name was Italianized into Giovanni.

In his first season at Lazio he played 10 times and scored 6 goals. In the following season 1931-1932 he made 31 appearances and scored 10 goals (4 against Modena in the last game of the season). The next season was similar with 30 appearances and again 10 goals. In 1933-1934 he played less, 20 matches with 4 goals. The 1934-1935 season was his last and he played 22 times with 8 goals. In Italy he didn't replicate his phenomenal Brazilian scoring rate, but with Italian defences and style of play that was to be expected. He was nonetheless a success in Rome playing 113 games and scoring 38 goals.

His five years in Rome will always be engraved in his family history as his first child was born in the eternal city and was named Romano Benito. The latter name was apparently in gratitude to Mussolini who had promised to cover all the hospital costs if Fantoni I scored in the derby (he did score, even if Lazio lost 3-1).

In 1935 Fantoni I returned to Brazil to Palestra Italia. He would play for three more years although only making 15 appearances, but still getting 11 goals. In 1936 Palestra Italia won the Campeonato Paulista.

He retired in 1938 with a phenomenal goalscoring rate, 205 in 240 professional matches.

After retiring he had experiences as sports director and manager, obviously with his beloved Palestra Italia/ Cruzeiro. As manager he won the campeonato Mineiro in 1943.

At Lazio he will be remembered as one of the more successful Brazilian players, as his 38 goals will always testify. His connection with the Biancazzurri continued and in 1947 he accompanied his brother Orlando (Fantoni IV) and fellow Brazilian Arsenio Robespierri to sign for Lazio. The dynasty almost continued when in 1955 he brought his son Fernando to Lazio. He stayed on trial for a few months even playing a few friendlies. But it was not to be, maybe he didn't have his father's goal scoring instinct. The most successful Fantoni at Lazio would remain Giovanni/Ninão/ João/ Juan, Fantoni I.

Appearances and goals for Lazio


Appearances Serie A

Goals Serie A





















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