Fiorentina had the worst possible outcome to their weekend as they lost 1-0 to nearby rivals Siena, while AC Milan dismantled Empoli 3-1. Fiorentina will remain in 4th place for this week, but they are now only one point in front of Milan and in serious danger of losing their Champions League spot. In other news, I would like to publicly renounce everything I said in my preview post about liking Siena. I hope they raze the city and build some gauche factory town that manufactures Fendi and Gucci knockoffs.
One other thing before I get to my brief recap: Over the past couple of weeks the cool kids have been observing that the Viola “don’t really miss Mutu,” but they missed him today. His inventiveness and finishing is what sets the great players apart from the merely good ones, and we needed some magic and especially his finishing prowess today. Today’s game wasn’t awful, but it was a gritty, chippy match fought often in the midfield. Mutu could have made a difference.
Fiorentina is very aggressive early. Papa Waigo and Pazzini were very aggressive up front, creating a number of chances. It is also a game filled with a number of niggling but real fouls. Players are going down constantly. In the 26th minute Pazzini creates a work-of-art level move to get open with the ball in the box, but puts his shot just wide. By the 30th minute the Viola are making a real effort to get the ball to the wingers and have the crosses come in, but still no one can finish. Siena gets their only real chance of the match in the 44th when Locatelli’s shot goes wide.
Fiorentina come out aggressive in the second half, and I note how hard Pazzini is working; he seems a different man in the last five games. Siena is aggressive too, however, and Locatelli is again in the middle of much of it. In the 61st a Siena goal is ruled offside, but it is a herald of things to come. In the 69th a Pazzini shot just dribbles by the post, and a few minutes later the Viola’s most dangerous player is substituted for Cacia. Ugh. In the 79th Siena earns a free kick (I write in my notebook that it is from a “terribly dangerous spot” and Massimo Maccarone makes me look like I know what I am talking about by placing a gorgeous kick in the top right corner. Massimo is none too bright, however, so he takes his shirt off to celebrate, earns a second yellow, and Siena have to defend the last ten minutes with ten men. It matters little as Siena ends up winning the match 1-0. Milan also win 3-1, and thus the boys in purple are now only up one point on the red-and-black.
Fiorentina didn’t finish. All credit to a gutsy Siena team, but if you can’t score you can’t win. The team wasn’t getting the service from the center of the midfield, Santana had an off-day, and only Pazzini looked dangerous in front of the net. The boys need Liverani and especially Mutu back in the worst way.
Did the boys look past this Siena team with an eye towards the big match at Goodison on Wendsday? Its hard to say, of course, but the club certainly did not have the laser-like precision they had vs. Juve last week. This can be counted as nothing but a missed opportunity, and one the team will rue if they lose that 4th spot to Milan. I am now officially bummed out.
I wasn’t sure if the game was going to be televised, online, etc., but eventually I found out that RAI International was televising it. Interesting experience. I just started subscribing a few weeks ago to catch every possible Viola match, even if it is a little expensive. It was an interesting experience. Aside from the muddled picture quality (for a while I thought the game was being played on Mars) the most notable element was how they would cut to a different Series A game whenever a goal was scored in a different match. (And always to the tune of the William Tell Overture, to boot.) Anyway, they twice interrupted dangerous pieces of open play, and also a threatening free kick by Fiorentina, to show these goals. I almost threw my shoe at the screen. I made me positively nostalgic for Fox Soccer Channel.
Here are the Great Man’s thoughts on the match.
I will be back tomorrow with more Fiorentina news.