Fiorentina started the second half of the game trailing Lazio by one goal and in possession. The second half was all purple which pushed Montella’s comment "Fiorentina did not deserve to lose" into the news outlets. Vinny’s positivity and his continuous ‘I am backing my players’ approach is admirable but has he crossed the line with that approach? The defeat cannot be attributed solely to the international break, but the repetition surely makes it a curse.
In this gallery you can find the usual stats but one of those (Shots & Shots on target) highlights the never ending issue of poor accuracy when shooting. Two shots on target out of 15 attempts and even if you consider Aquilani’s bicycle kick a third then that is an embarrassing 20% accuracy. Another stat to look at is the passing, its success and direction. Just an overview look showcases how everything was done through Pizarro which eliminated any versatility this team is used to. Also the substitution of Babacar and Aquilani for Ilicic and Bernardeschi kind of dropped down the activity in those positions in total despite Bernardeschi’s efforts to make a difference.
Moving on to analyze Montella’s choices:
1) Valero for Kurtic at half time was an easy move and any coach would have done it. The criticism here would be that Valero should have been a starter along with Badelj if the idea behind playing Kurtic was better defensive stability or that Aquilani should have been the deeper midfielder and not Kurtic seeing that positioning played really well into Montella’s formation last fixture against Inter.
2) Ilicic for Babacar was by far in my books the worst move Montella ever made. I have read a few negative comments about Babacar’s performance against Lazio as a target man. I agree with those comments but not due to his hold up/passing capabilities rather due to tactical errors that isolated him from almost all Fiorentina players. Having said that, how is it a sane move when you put in your most underperforming player in place of your best goalscorer?
3) Bernardeschi for Aquilani is an ideal substitution and straight from the book. Montella surprised us with many strange substitutions in the past and they have worked for him so an ideal substitution is not what this team is looking for when 11 minutes are left in the game. Removing Aquilani left that space for Ilicic who was almost invisible and barely able to find a good spot which pushed Mati and Valero to pick up the slack but eventually numbers beat bravery.
Last but not least, there are no signs of hunger to win as most of the fans have noticed. Fernandez comes on as a breath of fresh air with the intensity from minute 1. Babacar runs like a horse when he thinks there is a 1% chance the ball holder is going to attempt a through ball. Other than those two and probably Valero and Alonso, Montella’s team plays as if they have a four goals lead throughout the match.