Everyone thought this was the perfect opportunity for a slumping Fiorentina to turn it around. At home, against an opponent they'd already beaten, and playing in a competition in which they've excelled recently, la Viola felt maybe a bit too confident coming into this one, underestimating the talent and desire of a well-marshalled Carpi side.
Wearing their (untraditional but undeniably lovely) dark blue alternate kits, Fiorentina took the field at a rocking Stadio Artemio Franchi. They were probably the better team in the first half, with the best chance coming from a lovely Khouma Babacar chip through to Ante Rebic, who fired on the half volley; Zjelko Brkic partially blocked the Croatian's shot, and Rebic was a half step away from finishing the job as the ball wobbled towards the goal, only for a defender to hammer it off the line at the last possible instant. The Biancorossi, however, were game as could be, and rattled Luigi Sepe's goalpost at one point. All things considered, though, Fiorentina were a whisker or two better for the first 45 minutes.
Perhaps stung by criticism of his late subs, Paulo Sousa made a surprising half time change, removing the active and dangerous Rebic in favor of Josip Ilicic, with Federico Bernardeschi dropping to right wing back. Although they had a hatful of half-chances and kept the ball mostly in Carpi's end for much of the second period, the Gigliati couldn't get their goal and looked increasingly anxious as the clock ticked on. Milan Badelj and Matías Vecino began pushing higher up the pitch, and Carpi duly struck on a counter in the 76th minute with a direct attack against Fiorentina's back three, who had no midfield help ahead of them. Ryder Matos drove forward and squared the ball to Lorenzo Lollo, who put Antonio di Gaudio through against Nenad Tomovic. The winger cut inside unchecked (Tomovic might have expected a bit more help, in fairness) and fired low and across Sepe for the goal.
Although Sousa threw Giuseppe Rossi on for Vecino, the wind was clearly out of Fiorentina's sails; aside from Davide Astori (!) breaking in behind the defense and firing wide when one-on-one with Brkic, the game ended pretty flat, with the exception of Gonzalo Rodriguez and Jerry Mbakogu each receiving a second yellow for some off-the-ball extracurricular activities in stoppage time.
While it's pretty embarrassing for a presumptive Scudetto contender to get knocked out of the Coppa Italia this early by a team anyone would have expected them to dispatch with ease, the elimination could be a blessing in disguise, allowing Sousa to save his players for Serie A matches, rather than trying to compete on three fronts with a dangerously thin squad. On the other hand, the Coppa was maybe Fiorentina's most realistic chance at silverware this season; getting bounced so unceremoniously increases the pressure on the Portuguese mister. He's certainly not on the hot seat, considering that he's brought the club to second place in the league, but the team's recent form is definitely a cause for concern. Whether it convinces the Della Valles to shell out some filthy lucre for reinforcements this winter or convinces them that a Scudetto push is unrealistic, this could end up being a fixture of major significance at the end of the season.