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Fiorentina 0 - Napoli 1: Long Night's Journey Into Internationals

Eugene O'Neill references ahoy

Giuseppe Bellini

Vincenzo Montella & company got a lot wrong on Sunday, and it's left us on the purple blog feeling off color heading into (yes, another) international break. Although Montella and Ilicic have been (my) popular targets for blame, it is really unfair to slate any player in particular for this dispiriting performance. Instead, la Viola's home defeat is the latest reminder that the team and coach are caught in a dense New England fog in this first quarter of the season. All that's missing is for someone near the club to contract consumption and for Adrian Mutu to return to Florence (too mean?) and we have a Pulitzer Prize winning play on our hands.

But first the game. Montella elected to start a hybrid 4-3-3 with Ilicic cutting inside and Juan Cuadrado on the left working against Christian Maggio, instead of sticking with the 3-5-2. Marcos Alonso was also favored over Manuel Pasqual on the left. Fiorentina actually began the first half on the front foot, with a high press causing Napoli problems in possession and Khouma Babacar active across the forward line. It was the young Senegalese that skimmed the crossbar from WAY out in the opening minutes. But after the opening salvos passed, Napoli organized and began to control the game. Horrendous giveaways in midfield, particularly from Gonzalo Rodriguez and Alberto Aquilani - preferred as regista to continually-status-unknown David Pizarro - fueled the visitors attacks. The bright Lorenzo Insigne had to go off due to injury early on (get well soon), but even that change didn't slow the ease with which Napoli could build attacks. Gonzalo Higuain nearly scored an incredible solo goal, and we were all essentially saying this emphatically by halftime:

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"><p>Iakovenko &gt; Iličić</p>&mdash; Uros Popovic (@slowriot23) <a href="">November 9, 2014</a></blockquote>

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The second half began with Montella changing to a 3-5-2, with some positive results, but Napoli continued to have the better clear cut chances. Neto made an incredible save on Marek Hamsik who was clean through, and then Gonzalo Higuain found the winner after a terrible clearance by Nenad Tomovic. Montella used his subs in quick succession at this point, bringing on Pizarro, Mario Gomez, and Pasqual, who all had positive impacts but were unable to find the net. Gomez found the crossbar with a wonderful flicked header on a free kick, and Pasqual had his potential equalizer cleared off the line, but a draw would have been a lucky result.

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"><p>Forgot Montella <a href=""></a></p>&mdash; Viola Nation (@Viola_Nation) <a href="">November 9, 2014</a></blockquote>

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So as we reach the bottom of our stock of bourbon and our hostile, emotionally volatile children insist on telling us about their feelings, let's talk about the good old days. When the play was fluid even if the result went the wrong way. Where it was often the refs fault, and injuries weren't helping, but gosh-dang-gum-it, we were fun to watch. Because it might be a long, devastating night before we reach again the day.