Winter Wonderland - Palermo 0 - 3 Fiorentina

Tullio M. Puglia

Fiorentina enter the winter break in third place...

Fiorentina send their fans into the holiday break flying high as La Viola traveled to Sicily and beat Palermo 3-0 putting the squad in third place, tied with Inter and one point ahead of Naploi and only one point behind second place Lazio. Juventus is way out in front, eight points ahead of Lazio.

Stevan Jovetic scored first on a brilliant pass from Juan Cuadrado and converted a penalty and Gonzalo Rodriguez converted a second penalty to send Fiorentina into a Champions League place and put Palermo into the relegation zone.

Report Cards

Norberto Neto(6) - Only called on for one save and it wasn't all that tough, displayed a lot of calm on a lot of back kicks to him, however. There was a real sense of calm in the backfield today.
Nenad Tomovic(6.5) - Had a great game in Roncaglia's spot. Miccoli was very rarely dangerous. Tomovic caused a yellow on Munoz as well as he went forward several times.
Gonzalo Rodriguez(6) - Had a nice game in defense, missed a header that could've opened up the scoring, got the third goal, but pushed his way into the PK. making both Montella and Jovetic a bit angry. Tackled a man from behind and got a yellow card, meaning he'll be suspended next match, although the yellow card did seem a bit harsh. Should be damn glad he didn't miss that PK.
Stefan Savic(7) - made a number of saving tackles, seemed a calming influence in the back, good communication with Neto. Great game.
Juan Cuadrado(7) - Seemed able to run around his man any time he wanted, still has issues with his passing and crossing and sometimes sits on the ball a fraction or twoo too long, eventually giving up the ball. need him to make decisions just a split second faster.; Cassani(NA) - not enough time to make a difference. Got a yellow as well.
Giulio Migliaccio(6.5) - Today's match shows why we should never see Olivera in purple again. A beast in defense and had some Borja-like moves on offense as well.
Alberto Aquilani(6) - Much better in an attacking position, but not completely horrible in Pizarro's spot, the tam just didn't seem like the squad we know they can be. Subbed out for Pizzaro. ; David Pizarro(6) - didn't make a huge impact, but he's totally the guy that makes this squad tick.
Borja Valero(8) - Valero had a monster of a game, including an amazing display of ball control on a high hard pass back that he seemed to snatch out of thin air with his feet. Pizarro may make the team click, but Valero does most of the heavy lifting ; Matias Fernandez(NA) - not enough time to make a difference.
Manuel Pasqual(6.5) - Serves good ball to Toni, who misses the header, most of his crosses seemed to be dangerous.
Stevan Jovetic(7.5) - Looking more and more like the real Jojo. Really should've scored in the first half, but shot it just wide. First goal was a perfect touch and his penalty was just wicked.
Luca Toni(7) - Worked his butt off and earned the penalty for the second goal. Seemed to get a bit tired late, but no worries for that.

Montella(7.5) - Sublime job of guiding this squad through the first half of the season. Most every decision seems to work, with the exception of giving some points away on the road to lesser opposition, and the confusing decision to go with Olivera so much, the first half has been nearly perfect.

ref
Domenico Celi(5) - Really had me angry early on, falling for every Palermo dive and ignoring some fouls on Cuadrado. Weak yellow card given to Rodriguez. Wasn't afraid to give penalty kicks, however. The first was clearly a take down on Toni, although the second on the hand ball was a bit harsh. Throwing out the Fior trainer was a big joke, even the linesman was laughing. All in all I'd say he's a bit of an ass.

Quotes

Vincenzo Montella:

"I am satisfied, because today was a show of strength," said the Coach.

"My team played very well in the second half, with great confidence and courage. This is a wonderful group and we have to maintain this attitude.

"It is a very happy period for Fiorentina. Jovetic is back in shape and he is a player who raises the quality level of our team.

"Are we the best in the League after Juventus? I don’t know, but the season isn’t even halfway through yet."

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. (Players receiving yellow cards in this match have an *)

Pizarro (10)
Roncaglia (8)
Cuadrado (5) *
Olivera (4) - on a one match ban.
Rodriguez (4) * - suspended next match.
Jovetic (3) - one game suspension on the next card.
Tomovic (3) - one game suspension on the next card.
Cassani(2) *
Ljajic (2)
Migliaccio (2) *
Pasqual (2)
Aquilani (1)
Fernandez (1)
Toni (1)
Valero (1)

Looking Ahead

Off to Winter Break and the start of the Winter Transfer window. Expect a lot of stories and rumors and maybe a move or two, but I wouldn't hold my breath for anything major.

After New Years, Pescara come to town, Roncalgia will be back, but Rodriguez will be suspended. Without Ahmed Hegazy available, the choice for the Central Defender spot is much less clear, but it's likely the three defenders will be Savic, Roncaglia and Tomovic, with only where they line up being the question.

Pescara, with only 17 pts, is two places above relegation, but come into this match winning two of their last three matches. Granted, both wins were at home and Pescara has only 1 win and 1 draw on the road to their name, and both of those were back in September, so Fiorentina will be looking to get the new year started off right.

Winter Break
Sunday, January 6 9:00 ET Fiorentina v US Pescara
Official End of the First Half of the Season
Wednesday, January 9 Time TBD Fiorentina v AS Roma (Coppa Italia)
Sunday, January 13 9:00 ET Udinese v Fiorentina
Sunday, January 20 9:00 ET Fiorentina v Napoli
Sunday, January 27 9:00 ET Catania v Fiorentina
Sunday, February 3 9:00 ET Fiorentina v Parma

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