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Rotated Fiorentina collapse in Naples

A toothless Viola lurch to a blackout of which even the most foolhardy college freshman would be proud

This vest was the highlight of the afternoon. Photo
This vest was the highlight of the afternoon. Photo
Maurizio Lagana/Getty Images

Napoli 3 - FIORENTINA 0

A bad week got worse for the Viola, as Vincenzo Montella and company traveled south hoping to get a big reaction result after the disappointment of the loss to Juventus, only to find more of the same. Part of the blame surely falls squarely on Montella himself, who fielded an experimental lineup without a center forward after Khouma Babacar succombed to injury on Saturday.But the collective were far below the level needed for such an important match.

Fiorentina did begin brightly, holding the ball well and occasionally looking dangerous in wide areas, but the Napoli threat on the counterattack became rapidly obvious, with an early Dries Mertens burst terrifying the Fiorentina defense. It also became increasingly clear that the Juan Manuel Vargas - Josip Ilicic - Mohammed Salah front line wasn't working. There were few interchanges, and while Ilicic started brightly he began losing the ball far too often. Napoli were quick to the challenge early, physically imposing themselves in the same way Juve did (and with a similar early lenience from the referee). Then a bouncing ball in midfield fell to Mertens, who accelerated towards goal. Micah Richards backed off and Jasmin Kurtic didn't close quickly, and Mertens was able to calmly side foot a running finish home from the top of the box.

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="it"><p>I believe &quot;Fiorentina&quot; is actually Norse for &quot;play really well until the key moments of your season&quot;</p>&mdash; Viola Nation (@Viola_Nation) <a href="">12 Aprile 2015</a></blockquote>

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Things didn't get much better for the Viola over the next couple minutes, with Stefan Savic and Neto having to combine to deny Gonzalo Higuain who was played through on the break, and then Kurtic lost the ball in midfield more terribly than usual, springing Higuain again who unleashed a venomous strike off the crossbar. The ball appeared to bounce in, but with the lack of goal-line technology in Italy, the referee on the line wasn't able to make the call.

Tempers flared a bit after the Higuain "goal", but otherwise the Viola couldn't muster a reaction before the half. Montella rectified his mistake at halftime, putting Mario Gomez on for the ineffective (and out of position) Ilicic. Other than a couple early knockdowns creating chances for his teammates, the big German was never able to get involved. Borja Valero nearly scored on a header during the best spell of the second half for the visitors, but was offside.

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="it"><p>MATCH RATINGS <a href=""></a></p>&mdash; Viola Nation (@Viola_Nation) <a href="">12 Aprile 2015</a></blockquote>

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Higuain was presented with another chance early in the second half when the unusually shaky Savic whiffed a clearance, presenting the Argentine with a 1 v 1 against Neto. The Brazilian keeper again stood tall and forced Higuain wide, keeping the game 0-1. Then Montella made maybe the worst substitution of his Fiorentina career, by taking the again-good Milan Badelj off as his final sub, and introducing David Pizarro. Pizarro promptly didn't track the also newly-entered Marek Hamsik, who promptly slid his finish under Neto at the near post. Now down 2 goals, all verve seemed to disappear from Fiorentina, who succombed to a humiliating third in the final stages without ever mustering a shot on target.

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="it"><p>This guy wins Fiorentina Twitter tonight. We can all go home. Thank you Graham, well done, your winnings: <a href=""></a></p>&mdash; Viola Nation (@Viola_Nation) <a href="">12 Aprile 2015</a></blockquote>

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The display was especially embarassing as it came in a pivotal game after losing to Juventus in similarly banal fashion. Here's hoping we've gotten the team have removed all the bad ju-ju from their system now and can start playing again for the Europa League quarterfinals and return to our very recent highs. Forza viola!