Montella's chosen XI were thrown into the 3-5-2 tactical formation at the start of the match. In the back: Savic, Gonzalo and Marcos Alonso made the defensive backline behind defensive midfielder Badelj, two central midfielders Aquilani and Matias Fernandez, and wide midfielders Pasqual and Cuadrado. Ilicic was positioned on front next to Gomez to make La Viola’s attacking due.
Italian referee Russo blew his whistle to start the match to a saved Ilicic strike. Fiorentina continued to possess the ball for long periods thanks to pretty performances by Aquilani and Fernandez. The danger however was not as high as previous matches; credit goes to resting on the field Cuadrado and still out of form Mario Gomez. The highlight of the first half was Neto’s save that converted the ball to hit the post. Fiorentina dominated the first half otherwise and if it was not for Cuadrado’s somehow poor performance, Savic feeling awkward on the right side of the team and Gomez still unable to score then the purple outfit would have had the best half time performance since the start of the season.
Montella made his first substitution at minute 56 replacing Milan Badelj with Jasmin Kurtic. The latter stepped into the spotlight two minutes after, scoring Fiorentina’s first goal in Serie A 2014-15 season. Fernandez ran from one edge of the Atalanta box to the other twice before Kurtic took his space to receive the ball and aim for the far post. The rest of the match was not easy on Fiorentina; Alejandro Gomez was brought in for Atalanta to run chaos in Viola’s camp. The team started to look tired and Atalanta took advantage and started running and running causing Russo to book three Fiorentina players on fouls committed at the center of the field. Our young tactician answered by replacing Cuadrado and Pasqual with Vargas and Micah Richards to bring in some defensive stability and in an instant Atalanta were not as threatening and switched from rushing runs to crosses and long shots that were easy for Neto to stop on numerous occasions.
"We have played better games than this one, but we brought home the three points,"
"Atalanta deserved something more, but you also pick up points through suffering and difficulties. Mario Gomez will score at the time when he least expects it, but in the meantime he is fighting hard for the team.
"Cuadrado is a fundamental player for us who can get past his man. He is not totally relaxed right now, but he always puts in the effort. His limitation is that he can't always handle peaks and troughs in the game."
"I'm happy for the team's performance and victory. We sacrificed all and I'm really happy,"
"It is important to bring home the three points, it does not matter if the team plays well or not. I dedicate the goal to my family and my friend, Ilicic."
The tactical change made by Montella was a double edged sword; the total domination in the first half was sacrificed by removing Badelj from the team. His defensive capabilities and recovery of the ball played a major factor in keeping possession. That is something Aquilani was and will never be able to do since he was moved to a deeper position to give his space to Kurtic. I am not saying that it was a bad move by Montella but against a team slightly stronger than Atalanta, that could have cost Fiorentina all three points. Hopefully such changes could be made in the future by keeping Badelj but he probably lacks the fitness to play the 9- minutes or is needed by Montella to be 100% for the coming match against Sassuolo.
There isn’t much time to celebrate because on Wednesday 24th Sep Fiorentina host Sassuolo on the fourth week of Serie A. Fiorentina jumped 6 ranks to 10th in the table and a match at home against struggling Sassuolo is exactly what needs to be taken advantage of to get back up where this team should be.