Fiorentina stopped their 2013 losing streak at the Franchi with a 1-1 tie against now second place Napoli. Napoli made up for a howler given up by goalie Morgan De Sanctis on a shot from Facundo Roncaglia from midfield with a header from Edison Cavani for his 100th goal in Serie A.
Vincenzo Montella had to juggle his 3-5-2 lineup once again as David Pizarro was unable to go due to his leg injury. Neto got the nod in goal again, and Facundo Roncaglia came out of the dog house after a poor performance against Pescara to face off against Napoli's high octane front line. Gonzalo Rodriguez and Stefan Savic rounded out the back line.
Juan Cuadrado and Manuel Pasqual took up their normal wing positions in midfield, with Romulo lining up next to Cuadrado and Borja Valero next to Pasqual, with Alberto Aquilani taking over the field general duties. Stevan Jovetic and Luca Toni filled in up front.
Napoli's coach Walter Mazzarri also put out a 3-5-2 in front of De Sanctis, with Hugo Armando Campagnaro, Miguel Britos and former Viola Captain Alessandro Gamberini in defense. In the midfield, two other former Viola, Christian Maggio and Valon Behrami lined up next to Napoli stalwarts Marek Hamsik, Gökhan Inler and Juan Zuñiga. Cavani and Goran Pandev rounded out the lineup.
The first half started out fairly even, but was marred by a nit picky ref named Mauro Bergonzi, with three fouls called in the first three minutes, 21 fouls and 6 yellow cards handed out in the first half. Napoli got off the first two shots of the match, both off target before Fiorentina kicked it into gear.
La Viola got the next three shots, two from Romulo and one from Pasqual all wide of the mark, before just past the the half hour mark, when Roncaglia launched a long pass from midfield, trying to link up with Toni, but the Napoli goalie made a very bad choice, charging the play, colliding with his defender while the ball bounced in front of the net and dribbled in for the Fiorentina lead.
It only took less than half an hour, however, before Bergonzi awarded a very weak free kick to Napoli deep in the Viola end, as Zuniga basically just fell over and the Partenopei capitalized on the call, as Hamsik took the free kick and Cavani got away from Roncaglia and put it in the back of the net.
Luca Toni had a chance at the end of the half as Cuadrado got in a nice cross, but the striker put it high and wide.
The second half was a much different affair, as Bergonzi decided to put away his yellow card and let the squads play a bit. Fatigue began to tell for both sides, however, as the tempo was much lower and ball control seemed to be the goal.
Shots were even through the first 15 minutes of the half, two for Cavani, one for Inler, two for Aquilani and one for Pasqual, but all but one of Cavani's shots were not on net. Jovetic tried his first shot of the match, but it was blocked by his defender. Jovetic only took two shots in the whole match, certainly not enough for Fiorentina fans.
At minute 70, Gamberini had to be replaced due to an injury and Mazzarri choose to go offensive and replaced the defender with Lorenzo Insigne, and the move paid off as the next two shots were all Napoli.
Montella, perhaps sensing the change in momentum, then played his first card, bringing on defensive minded Giulio Migliaccio for Romulo, followed a few minutes later by another defender, Nenad Tomovic, for Pasqual.
Even with the defensive mindset, Napoli still had a chance to get the win, as Britos beat Roncaglia and served a perfect cross to Pandev who headed in into the groun in front of the net but Neto came up big, knocked it away and saved the tie.
Fiorentina seemed to take some energy from the save. Adem Ljajic was brought in for a gassed Luca Toni, and Fiorentina made one last push to get the win. Jovetic and Ljajic each had shots at the net, Jovetic's was wide and Ljajic's was a weak shot that was easily save, but la Viola had one more chance in their bag of tricks as Cuadrado got lose on the outside, drove the box and served a perfect ball to charging Aquilani. Aquilani was wide open, in perfect position for the shot and had a clear look at the goal, but, perhaps also because of fatigue, scuffed the shot over the net and the match ended even.
La Viola ended with 54% possession, out shot Napoli 14 to 10, although Napoli had more shots on net, 5 to 3.
Bergonzi, who had given 13 fouls to Fiorentina, compared to 8 for Napoli in the first half, even it up in the second half as the foul count ended up 20 for the home squad and 17 for the away.
The point keeps Fiorentina in fifth place, regardless of the afternoon match between AS Roma and Inter. Napoli use thier point to tie Lazio and move into second place.
Neto(7.5) - 4 big saves, had no chance on Cavani's goal, saved the match late on pandev's header.
Roncaglia(6) - Fluke goal, but several defensive mistakes as well, Left Cavani wide open for the goal. Give and take.
Rodriguez(6) - Pretty good game for Rodriguez, no big mistakes, clearances were better
Savic(6) - Good game, held a strong offense to 1 goal.
Cuadrado(6.5) - Better match for Juan than midweek, by all rights should have earned the foul that sent Behrami off and left Fior with a man advantage. He did earn a yellow or two.
Romulo(4.5) - Meh, waste of space today. Gave away the ball too easy, fouled too easy, took a selfish shot when he had Jovetic wide open on goal. Need Pizarro back. Subbed late in a defensive move ; Migliaccio(NA)
Aquilani(6.5) - had a better game in Pizarros role than he's had so far, but had the chance to win it at the end and scuffed it.
Valero(7) - Same warrior performance he's given all season. Only player that didn't seem to get tired in teh second half
Pasqual(4.5) - Obvious tired from fixture pile up, no t very many crosses, his one free kick wasn't close, he was slow, but for Romulo he'd have been the weakest link again; Tomovic(NA) - brought in for defense. his biggest contribution was getting kneed in the face and wasting a few minutes as he was treated.
Jovetic(5.5) - When is this guy going to step up and show he's worth the price tag put on him? Only one shot and that not on net. step up and shoot, darn it.Ljajic had as many shots in only 5 minutes of play.
Toni(5) - Could've earned a PK, but for Bergonzi. Reports are conflicted as to whether it was really a foul or not, missed a shot late in the first half that should've been at least on net. had a chance in teh second half, but De Sanctis had a great block. got tired late, understandably. Subbed for Ljajic ; Ljajic(5.5) - Weak shot, lots of dribbling, but had some decent interactions with Jovetic.
Montella(6) - Had his lads play a great first half, but fatigue set in in the second and he clearly played for the tie, which never plays well in Firenze. Miggliaccio for Romulo and Tomovic for Pasqual were clearly defensive substitutions, although bringing in Ljajic for an exhausted Luca Toni did create some late chances.Scoring is still an issue, but I don't think it's necessarily Montella's issue right now, i think Prade needs to bring him another weapon.
Mauro Bergonzi(3) - Yellow card happy in the first half, ignored a hold on Luca Toni in the box, which at least half of serie A ref's would've given a penalty for, and then reversed himself in the second half, barely calling fouls and giving no cards, keeping Behrami on the pitch, when he clearly could have been sent off. Late in the match ignores a clearly intentional hand ball by Pandev, which would have had him suspended for next match.
"I was satisfied with the performance, as once again the team did well despite having less energy than Napoli," he said referring to the extra time Coppa Italia test on Wednesday night.
"We did not allow Napoli many scoring opportunities. Our defence has been stretched out at times recently, but I see no major problems.
"I thought Valon Behrami should’ve received a second yellow card, as it was a pretty clear intentional foul, but my protest ended there.
"The team is doing very well, but I think it’s evident we can grow a great deal. You cannot do everything in a year, but this is a start."
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 *)
Rodriguez (6) *
Jovetic (3) - one game suspension on the next card.
Tomovic (3) - one game suspension on the next card.
Valero (3) - one game suspension on the next card.
Toni (2) *
Savic (1) *
Next two matches have to be considered as must win, especially with Juve and Inter coming up after. Hopefully Pizarro will be back, the team will have a week to rest up and regroup. Catania are no pushovers, however , coming off of two wins and a tie and will be fired up to avenge the 2-0 loss early in the season. Parma are undefeated in five matches among them a tie with Juve.
Sunday, January 27 9:00 ET Catania v Fiorentina
Sunday, February 3 9:00 ET Fiorentina v Parma
Saturday, February 9 12:00 ET Juventus v Fiorentina
Sunday, February 17 2:45 ET Fiorentina v Internazionale
Sunday February 24 9:00 ET Bologna v Fiorentina
Sunday Mar 3 9:00 ET Fiorentina v Chievo Verona