Fiorentina players reported two weeks ago for International duty. All kinds of things happened; Bernardeschi scored for the Italian U21 national team and Tomovic was within sight of a drone followed by involvement in mass violence when Serbia played Albania.
Vincenzo Montella was as proactive as ever going with a formation and line-up that just worked the previous match giving no credit to his foe Stefano Pioli. The latter had two long weeks to study the brilliance that Montella created against Inter and spent the first half showcasing how any great team can be stopped when well prepared. Neto in goal, Tomovic on the right side of Gonzalo and Savic in defense and completed by Alonso on the left. Pizarro was hinged in his usual deep role but joined in this match with Kurtic as a deep player (which did not pan out) behind Aquilani and Fernandez in the attacking mid. Cuadrado was positioned in the attacking third with a free role to move around as he pleases in support of target man Khouma Babacar.
The team was as usual; rusty after International breaks. In addition, it felt as if they were distracted by despising the gold stripes and argueing about the black shorts! Meanwhile, Lazio struck a well organized team goal four minutes after the half hour mark. The goal seemed to wake up a tactically napping Montella who changed a little bit in his midfield positioning to start taking control of the game until half time.
Cheering for Fiorentina will (maybe) eventually cause Multiple Personality Disorder in a fan's mind. Playing good football and the beautiful rare goals that showcase the talent brings out the happy Fiorentina fan. On the other hand, the shooting off target, the hours Ilicic takes to decide what to do with the ball and the strikers injury issue brings out the mad man who wants serious commitments and change. The second half could not be any better in terms of performance from the purple side. Lazio on the other hand started wasting time at minute 39! The inclusion of Valero in place of Kurtic who was not positioned where he shined in recent matches. The only striker Babacar was then subbed out for non other than Ilicic who is known to almost evey Viola fan as a player who when in his best form needs to be a starter to have any impact on the match. Ten minutes were enough for Montella to learn that what he did was unquestionably wrong and immediatly brought in Bernardeschi for Aquilani. All these changes were only enough to exhaust the capital club players that in return really really took their time laying down causing the referee to add 8 extra minutes.
Minutes before the final whistle, Cuadrado opted to dribble 3 pairs of legs hoping to luck out on sending off one of many yellow card holders from Lazio but the tables were turned and Neto found himseld against a three players attack joined by Pizarro. Lazio doubled their lead and edged Fiorentina to snatch very important three points away from home. Lazio goals were scored by Djordjevic and Lulic.
There is no point in speculating if that foul was a penalty on Cuadrado, if that second goal was an offside or not, if that Aquilani bicycle kick went in (would have been the best hands down), if the referee should have sent two or three Lazio players off by minute 70, or if Montella payed attention to his opponents instead of who does well in training and act accordingly. Europa League match against PAOK is in a few days and the team must learn and refocus in order to return to top form and scoring form.
"I honestly don't think that every time one team wins, the other deserved to lose,"
"We did not take the right approach at the start and Lazio were far more clinical. In the second half we were rapid, reactive and dominated. We did not deserve to lose.
"We are bitter, even if we know that we took on a great opponent. Lazio hadDjordjevic on the field and Klose on the bench, players who can finish chances and change games. Our best forwards are in hospital...
"Babacar and Cuadrado played well, but they can't score every game, that's not their main characteristic."
"Borja remains central to my project and he is fundamental to our principles."
"I liked the whole team today and there was a lot of our spirit in this win, something that had been seen in recent performances," declared the Coach in his Press conference.
"There is also a lesson to be learned, as in the first half we took our usual approach, while in the second we fell back and ran too many risks. We are a team who want to be attacking and not passive.
"It was difficult to keep the tempo high against a great opponent in this heat, so it was only normal that Fiorentina emerged as time went on. We needed an extraordinary effort to take home the points.
"There are positive signs from this match, but we will try to work on improving both our positive and negative aspects in future."
"My players were extremely afraid and the minutes seemed excessive, but the fourth official told me there were six substitutions and the medical staff went on to the field six times, so it added up."
"We did not play to the best of our potential, although in the second half we tried to impose our game more,"
"Lazio are a very strong team. Our fans must continue to have faith in this team, we want to win in order to give joy to our audience.
"Now we're only thinking about the Europa League challenge on Thursday."