Fiorentina's bad habit of scoring early and taking their foot off the gas nearly cost them again...
But for a missed offside and a lucky bounce that newcomer Marcelo Larrando headed into the back of the net, Viola fans would once again be ruing missed points after what appeared to be a flying start.
Fiorentina once again had to field a different lineup, as right winger Juan Cuadrado was ineligible for yellow card accumulation. Midfield general avid Pizarro returned from his suspension, however, and lined up between Borja Valero and Alberto Aquilani.
Montella aslso changed up his back line, starting recently acquired German defender Marvin Commper in place of Stefen Savic. Gonzalo Rodriguez and Nenad Tomovic, playing for injured Facundo Roncaglia filled out the back line in front of Emiliano Viviano.
Manuel Pasqual got things off early with a perfect free kick, but Fiorentina rested on their laurels, let Chievo back into the game and the Flying Donkeys made it hurt 7 minutes before half time as early sub Isaac Cofie put one past new Viola defender Marvin Commper and into the corner of the net.
The first half ended with possession all but even with Fior having a slender advantage with 51% possession. Fiorentina had 11 shots compared to 9 for Chievo, but La Viola were a tad more accurate, with 3 shots on net to only the goal on net for Chievo.
At halftime, Fiorentina coach Vincenzo Montella changed things up, bringing in Romulo for Ljajic. Romulo slotted in on the right, while Jovetic moved over to Ljajic's position on the left.
After the break, Fiorentina were more aggressive, out shooting the visitors 15 to 2, although only 3 of those 15 shots were on net.
That aggressiveness didn't quite translate into goals however. Romulo, streaking down the right side time and time again, couldn't seem to find a Viola player to pass too and Jovetic and Toni seemed to disappear for long stretches at a time.
Montella finally rolled the dice again, shortly after the hour mark, bringing in Larrando for Jovetic. That move seemed to increase the danger for Chievo as a few minutes later, Larrando earned a free kick deep in the Flying Donkey's zone.
Pasqual stepped up again to take the free kick and served up a brilliant ball that Luca Toni put off the post, the rebound dropped to Larrando's feet, but he put it wide.
It was another set piece that put Fiorentina up for good however, as a ball crossed to an apparently off side Toni bounced straight to Larrando for the lead.
The three points puts Fiorentina firmly in 6th place as Catania was beaten by Inter on a last minute goal, dropping them three points behind La Viola.
However, fans are still left scratching their heads as their team continues to squander early leads and seems to lack that killer instinct needed to do well consistently in Serie A.
This is not a new thing for Fiorentina, previous coaches, most notable Sinisa Mihajlovic, have commented on Fiorentina's softness, not only in front of goal, but in putting away teams they should beat.
Next week is a big match up in Rome against Lazio, who sit two points ahead of Fiorentina in the table.
Viviano(6)- not his fault on the lone goal. Not called on to make any saves, but had a few interventions to stop Chievo chances.
Tomovic(5)- had some trouble with the Chievo strikers, handled a ball which Doveri missed, perhaps the ref considered it inadvertent. really looked awkward when pushing forward on the right, trying to compensate for the absent Cuadrado.
Rodriguez(5.5)- gave up a very bad ball that nearly cost Fiorentina early, had a few good clearances, but he's not been the same player he was earlier in the year. Newcomer Commper let him have it a few times for being out of position.
Commper(6)- bit out of position on the Chievo goal, but played well after. Also had some good possession up front. nice start for the new guy.
Pasqual(6.5)-amazing free kick to get it started, but unfortunately, he reverted back to the norm, having only 4 of 12 total crosses finding a teammate. Missed a chance for his first brace, by shanking a good chance wide.
Aquilani(5.5)- Aquilani vexes me. Seems he should be so much better and yet, he's not. Had trouble linking up with Pizarro early, took a wild shot that went way high, and pulled a man down from behind, earning a yellow card which will have him miss the next match against Lazio. Granted, the mid-line has frequently had to switch around, due to injuries and yellow card suspension, but we need for him to contribute a bit more.
Pizarro(6)- didn't get a lot of touches early, but the touches he did get were nice and solid. Whether he directly contributes or not, it's clear that he's the keystone for this team.
Valero(6)- other than his wildly inaccurate shooting touch, Valero is the other keystone in the midfield.
Jovetic(5.5)- definitely played out of position from the start and looked it. after halftime when he moved to the other side of the field, he got more involved, but was playing farther back than necessary, basically becoming a midfielder. Subbed out for Larrando in a surprise move.; Larrando(6.5)- got the go ahead goal, perhaps luckily, but he was in the right place and made it count. missed another shot, that was probably an easy chance, but he's got rust. hasn't had much playing time recently. Really showed a lot of grit and was in the thick of things from the get go, which couldn't be said for the player he was subbed in for.
Toni(6)- i give him an extra point just for grit and effort, although he might deserve a lesser score. he did earn the free kick the first goal was scored on. He got a ball off the post and was fighting with the Chievo defense all match. Disappeared for long stretches of the second half, however. Subbed out late for Vin Diesel in a defensive move; Migliaccio(NA)- not in long enough to make an impression
Ljajic(5.5)- didn't really look comfortable in the three man trident, one touch too many all match. Subbed at the half for Romulo ; Romulo(6)- While he had a direct influence on the tempo of the match, he really brought Fiorentina to the attack in the second half, his crossing was completely Pasqual-like, having 8 crossing attempt and getting exactly zero of those crosses to a teammate. Regardless, his pressure made Chievo honor him and opened up the center of the field and probably contributed to the eventual goal.
Montella(6.5) - We cursed him and scratched our heads at his substitution pattern, but in the long run it paid off and in a very large way. We've asked him to change the formation and he has, we expected an angry team who would come out fired up and he did that. The one thing I can point to and say it is a negative, is the way this team lets up when they score early. he needs to work more on that.
Daniele Doveri(4)- no consistency. Jokic was fouling all match, and got no card. Aquilani makes one foul, granted it was from behind, and is carded. Two or three whistles came very late, all when Fiorentina had the advantage and was pressing forward. His squad missed a handball from Tomovic and missed the offside on the Larrando goal.
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 (13) *
Aquilani (4) * - misses next match
Jovetic (3) - one game suspension on the next card.
Pasqual (3) - one game suspension on the next card.
Savic (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.
Cuadrado back, but no Aquilani. If Vincenzo continues with the 4-3-3, look for a midfield of Valero, Pizarro and Aquilani. It will be interesting to see if Larrando has earned a starting spot.
Sunday March 10 3:45 ET Lazio v Fiorentina
Sunday, March 17 10:00 ET Fiorentina v Genoa
Saturday, March 30 10:00 ET Cagliari v Fiorentina
Sunday, April 7 9:00 ET Fiorentina v AC Milan
Sunday, April 14 9:00 ET Atalanta v Fiorentina
Sunday, April 21 9:00 ET Fiorentina v Torino
"I went for a player with different characteristics and it worked not only in terms of the goal, but also the pressure," (re: Jovetic being subbed off)
"It was a tactical change that can happen, even if you are removing a talent like the Montenegrin. We created opportunities and hit the woodwork with Luca Toni, though Chievo made us suffer today.
"We were particularly troubled by their counter-attacks in the first half, but it was clear we were struggling with the tempo. I made some changes and our intensity levels increased.
"My team looked for the victory with determination and deserved the points. We were more practical than on other occasions."
"There are so many teams who are pushing hard and the scenarios are open to almost any result. I think it will be decided in the final rounds."