Fiorentina are making a habit of wacky performances at home, and their 3-2 victory in the lunchtime kickoff this Sunday was no different, with the home team starting the first half in apathetic fashion against struggling Atalanta. It only took the visiting nerazzurri 9 minutes to take the lead, with Papu Gomez swinging in a cross from deep, catching out the napping Ciprian Tatarusanu and Manuel Pasqual at the back post, where Davide Zappacosta nodded home. It wasn't even their first good chance: Tatarusanu had previously horrendously conceded possession, only to be bailed out by an excellent Stefan Savic block.
The shock of trailing so early did, eventually, awaken the still drowsy Fiorentina side, whose midfield in particular struggled to assert itself and continued to suffer until the equalizer. The clear best player on the day was Alessandro Diamanti, who was clearly electrified by his first appearance for Fiorentina at the Artemio Franchi. He and Joaquin were the ones trying to make things happen, and Joaquin won the free kick that Matias Fernandez used to assist the equalizer. Jose Maria Basanta connected with a polished header to the back post when unmarked near the penalty spot. After 19 minutes the score was level, and the game continued in even and fairly back and forth fashion until halftime.
After halftime Fiorentina improved greatly, thanks to Vincenzo Montella tweaking the formation to a 4-3-3. Joaquin was given more license to go forward, while Nenad Tomovic was more explicitly tasked to the dangerous Papu Gomez. The entrance of David Pizarro for a decidedly uninspired Borja Valero also improved the performance, and the Viola began to collect chances. Mario Gomez - who was lively if never set through on goal - nearly latched onto a couple balls in the box, first on a knockdown from Tomovic and then from a low Diamanti cross. Mohamed Salah came on for his Fiorentina debut, and impressed without finding the breakthrough either, although he was nearly the assist-man for Diamanti, whose curling left footed effort was only kept out by the decisive Marco Sportiello.
Alino had to do it all himself in the 76', collecting a half-clearance on the edge of the box, and beating two Atalanta defenders with one deft feint before placing the ball at the back post. His celebration under the Curva Fiesole would have been the highlight of the match had the Viola not conceded soon after. Stefano Colantuono attempted to regain parity by throwing on 22 year old Richmond Boakye, and it was the Ghanian who exploited a defensive lapse and beat Tomovic to a low cross at the back post. On 84' it was all level and it seemed that Fiorentina would have to settle for a disappointing draw, but they still ramped up a final assault. After Gomez and Salah both had half chances, Mati Fernandez did very well to get behind the defense and swing in a low cross which Pasqual (in what looked like offside, to be honest) side footed home, to our collective joy.
The victory puts Fiorentina in 4th, ahead of Sampdoria on goal difference, at least until Lazio play Genoa on Monday night. They still trail Napoli by 7 points and will have to play better than they did today if they still hope to close that gap. All the same, there were many positives to be taken from the individual performances, and the change to the 4-3-3 at halftime will only feed discussion as far as how we Montella should go forward post-Cuadrado.
"Who doesn't fight for what they want, will never obtain it"
Tata 5.5 Tomo 5.5 Savić 6.5 Basanta 6.5 Pasqual 6 Joaquín 6 Mati 6.5 Badelj 5.5 Borja 5 Diamanti 7.5 Gomez 6+ Pek 6.5 Salah 6.5 Montella 6— Viola Nation (@Viola_Nation) February 8, 2015