... Of Serie A officiating.
It's been a remarkable Serie A season for officiating so far, with massive amounts of yellow and red cards given and penalty kicks handed out right and left. Today, however, Ref Marco Guida was quick with the cards, but declined to give penalties when he had three possible chances to give them to Fiorentina.
Guida handed out 5 yellow cards, two of which will result in suspensions for Facundo Roncaglia and David Pizzaro for next week's important match with Lazio. Two hand balls in the box, one of them seemed very intentional and a clear take down, at least to me, of Facundo Roncaglia were completely ignored.
All that being said, this was still a game Fiorentina could've won with more precise play in the front of the formation. Manuel Pasqual had a wide open opportunity, Luca Toni hit a post and Juan Cuadrado sent a shot wide on a nice give and go with Stevan Jovetic.
Fiorentina came out in Vincenzo Montella's now familiar 3-5-2 formation in front of Emiliano Viviano. With Roncaglia, Gonzalo Rodriguez and Nenad Tomovic in defense. Viviano and Tomovic had been away with their national teams, althought the former had just sat on the bench, while the latter had given up a penalty kick which lost his team the match and been red carded.
In the midfield, Juan Cuadrado, back from Colombia, lined up next to Romulo on the right. Pizzaro took the middle and Borja Valero and Captain Manuel Pasqual filled out the left.
Stevan Jovetic, back from a win with Montenegro, lined up with Luca Toni up front.
Chievo coach Eugenio Corini, with a full week and a half to prepare for La Viola, put out a smothering 4-3-3 formation in front of goalie Stefano Sorrentino, with Sebastien's little brother Nicolas Frey next to ex-Viola Dario Dainelli, Marco Andreolli and Boukary Drame. Roberto Guana, Luca Rigoni and Perparim Hetemaj filled out the middle, while Siqueira Luciano, David Di Michele and Cyril Thereau lined up front for the Flying Donkeys.
Chievo took the kick off and started off a very high paced first half, with neither team able to take control of the ball much as both squads charged up and down the pitch for most of the half.
Fiorentina had the first shot of the game, a Cuadrado shot from Pizzaro launched too high in the sixth minute. Chievo struck right back as Thereau got a ball through to Luciano, six feet from the goal, but he shot it wide and high.
It took another 7 minutes for the next shot and it was a real chance. Jovetic was served the ball in the middle of the box, but he had his back to the goal, so he just back heeled it out to the left where Pasqual was left wide open, but he shot it straight at the goalie, who parried it easily.
Once again Chievo came right back at la Viola. with Thereau having a shot blocked. Jovetic, from Toni had a shot, but it was blocked on the way in, as well.
Chievo responded to that shot as well, charging up the field, with Luciano taking the ball in the Viola zone and dribbling through the midfield and managed a through ball to Thereau, who had beaten Rodriguez and the Chievo player made no mistake from a sharp angle, guiding it past Viviano for the games first goal.
It only took a minute, however, for Fiorentina to get a corner off of Frey and they made no mistake from it. Pasqual Served in a cross that Toni managed to get a touch with his head and it dropped to a charging Rodriguez who guided it into the corner and just barely across the line for the equalizer.
the next 20 minutes were fairly even and uneventful. Di Michele and Romulo each had shots blocked, Luciano missed another shot wide, Jovetic had a shot blocked and each side had a chance nullified for offside.
Right before the half, however, Fiorentina had another great chance to score. Cuadrado drove in from the side and whipped in a vicious cross that Toni headed brilliantly, but it hit the post and Fiorentina were left thinking, "What if" yet again.
At halftime, Fiorentina only had 55% of the possession, which for this team is not so good. Chievo had 5 shots, 1 on net while Fiorentina had 7, with two on. Fior held the edge in corners 4 to 2, as well as having 6 fouls to Chievo's 5. Two apparent hand balls in the Chievo zone had also been ignored by the officiating squad.
At the start of the half, Montella brought on Migliaccio for Romulo, which seemed to give Fior a bit of an edge in possession, but also seemed to slow down the attack. The second half was played at a much lesser pace.
The first ten minutes of the half was more back and forth, with a missed shot by Jovetic and a missed shot by Thereau until minute 56, when Juan Cuadrado, who was clearly the best on the field for Fiorentina charged past his defender, passed the ball to Jovetic, who gave it right back as Cuadrado entered the box, but Cuadrado was unable to get his shot on goal and it went just wide.
Chievo, as they had all match, came right back at La Viola as Thereau got off another shot which required Viviano to make his only save of the match.
Jovetic missed two more shots and Luca Toni had a shot blocked, so Montella went to the bench again, bringing in Mounir El Hamdaoui to replace Toni.
4 minutes later, Rongalia charged forward, dished the ball to El Hamdaoui, who gave it right back and free him up in the box. Drame, already on a yellow card, came across with his hand on Roncaglia's shoulder and his leg below and appeared to trip the defender, who went down in the box, but the play was waved on by the ref. By all reports, a penalty was deserved.
That play wound up being the last real scoring chance for either squad. Valero, Jovetic and Cuadrado all missed shots before both Pizzaro and Roncaglia received their yellow cards. Pizzaro for an intentional hand ball and Roncaglia on a sliding tackle. Pizzaro's card appeared to be deserved, while the second seemed a bit harsh.
In the 83rd minute, Cuadrado started to cramp up, so Montella brought in Adem Ljajic, but the result was pretty much a done deal by then. Guana and Valero each got a shot off for their teams, but neither were close.
The match ended 1-1. Fiorentina wound up with 58% possession to Chievo's 42%, out shot the Flying Donkeys 16 to 8, although each team only had two shots on goal. Guida called 11 fouls on Fiorentina in the second half to only 7 for Chievo, for a total of 17-12. Fiorentina had 9 corner kicks to only 2 for Chievo, although only the one they scored on seemed dangerous.
The result left Fiorentina in sole possession of 5th place, depending on AS Roma's result later in the day against Genoa. Even with a Roma tie or win, Fiorentina will wind up no worse than 6th place with 12 points
Viviano(6) - unable to get a hand on Thereau's goal, wasn't really his fault and would've been a miracle to save. Only called on for one other save.
Roncaglia(6) - Lots of nice runs forward, should've been a penalty called. given a yellow card. he did leave his feet, but other leagues would've just called a foul. Only in Italy would you get that card.
Rodriguez(6.5) - Beaten by Thereau, but makes up for it almost immediately. Also managed to not get his fourth yellow card.
Tomovic(6) - other than being beaten by Luciano once, and he caught him as the ball went out, he was very good. Given a yellow card, a weak one, typically.
Cuadrado(7) - Man of the match. constantly ran past his man, served a beautiful ball to Toni, who put it off the post. Had a nice give and go with Jovetic, but shot wide. got leg cramps late .Subbed for Ljajic; Ljajic(NA) - not enough time to make an impact.
Romulo(6) - Lots of runs forward, nearly scored late in the first half, but went wide. Subbed at the half for Migliaccio; Migliaccio(6) - With Vin Diesels addition, the midfield got stronger and possessed the ball much more.
Pizzaro(6) - Seemed a bit distracted, might have been rust. Long passes over the top didn't hit their target and an intentional hand ball got him a yellow (perhaps the only warranted card of the day)
Valero(5) - Bad day for Borja, passes, normally crisp and sharp, were looped to people or straight to defenders, leading to Chievo charges and counters. Montella said the pitch was long and heavy, could've contributed to Borja's bad day.
Pasqual(4.5) - had a wide open chance and shot it straight at the goalie, every cross after that was straight to a defender. Very bad day.
Toni(6) - Got the assist on Fior's goal, had a header glance off the post, but had long stretches of invisibility. Granted the Viola crossing left a lot to be desired. Subbed for El Hamdaoui; El Ham(5.5) - came back and controlled some nice balls to help out the midfield and put the ball through to Roncaglia that should have been granted a penalty. still needs more time to gel, I think.
Jovetic(5) - had two great plays, the heel pass to Pasqual and a nice give and go with Cuadrado, but every shot he took was about 10 feet too high. Just didn't look like himself, most likely due to the International Break. Will need a lot more from him next week.
Montella(6) - Still unable to get the three points on the road, but a point is a point and it could've been worse. Of his subs, Migliaccio had an effect, but El Ham and Ljajic did not really.
“At the end of the match I spoke to the referee in order to discuss some of the details. There are six officials on the field now, but I saw very little collaboration between them.”
“We created quite a few chances and could’ve done more, but I think the draw is the right result and we can be happy with that in a difficult arena.
“Is the Europa League qualification an objective? We just have to work and give our all, then in a few weeks we’ll have a clearer idea.”
“We must take it one game at a time and will certainly try to do our best.”
“The draw is the right result, as Chievo allowed us very little. However, there was a penalty and I saw little collaboration between the six officials.”
“We have set up a Fiorentina side with a precise identity, able to play great and attacking football. Our two players who were on yellow cards, Roncaglia and David Pizarro, were duly booked so they’ll be suspended against Lazio.
“I can’t understand how we always end up full of yellow cards… Controversial refereeing decisions have objectively cost us points.
“Fair play is one of our guiding principles, but we don’t want to get the reputation of a team who never say anything when incidents go against us. We have attacking play and do not feel we are being protected by the referees.”
Cristian Llama (Via Twitter)
“My goodness, how bad are Italian referees! It’s one worse than the next! Not to talk about the assistants…”
“A great performance against a fantastic team. Towards the end with a little more sharpness we could’ve done even more. This side knows how to work and suffer together.”
Yellow Card Situation
Disqualification of one game after the 4th, 8th, 12th, 15th and the 17th yellow card.
Past 17, every yellow card is equivalent to a one-match ban.
Pizarro (4) – Misses next match.
Roncaglia (4) - Misses next match.
Jovetic (3) – will be assessed a one game suspension on his next card.
Lazio comes to the Franchi. Fiorentina will be without Roncaglia and Pizzaro. Savic will likely step in for Roncaglia, shouldn't be a large drop off there.
Pizzaro is another matter, he will be missed greatly, I'm afraid. There are a few alternatives, however, as Midfield, strangely enough, is a Viola strength now. If Aquilani is ready to go, you could see him replace the midfield general, at least for as long as he can go. Should Aquilani not be available, Valero could move to the middle and Matias Fernandez could take Borja's place. Olivera and Della Rocca are also available, if not really optimum replacements.
NOTE: European Daylight Savings time takes effect next Sunday, so game time will be an hour later that usual, here in the States.
Sunday, October 28 10:00 ET Fiorentina v Lazio
Thursday, November 1 3:45 ET Genoa v Fiorentina
Sunday, November 4 9:00 ET Fiorentina v Cagliari
Sunday, November 11 9:00 ET AC Milan v Fiorentina
Sunday, November 18 9:00 ET Fiorentina v Atalanta