A change of manager. The mercato merry-go-round. Waiting for the season to start. The fixtures bring you one step closer, only to find that you have been drawn against big spending AC Milan in the first game. You try to predict the result, only to find that it is an impossible task because of both clubs wholesale summer changes. Kick off is just around the corner. The anxiety is ramped up a notch when the lineups are announced and there is no starting place for new signings Davide Astori or Mario Suárez and Joaquín is in the stands having requested a move to hometown club Real Betis.
But then...the match passes with a surprisingly small amount of stress. Fiorentina look strong from the opening minutes and Milan look...well...pretty awful. Sousa had set up his team in a 3-4-3 formation with a front three of Josip Iličić, Federico Bernardeschi and new signing Nikola Kalinić. It was the Croatian striker who has the best chance to open the scoring on 20 minutes, but could only fire straight at 'keeper Mario Lopez.
Perhaps the most decisive moment in the match was on 37 minutes when Milan's debutante defender Rodrigo Ely was sent off for a second yellow card - both fouls having been against Kalinić. Marcos Alonso, who up until this point had a shaky game in defense stepped up to take the resulting free kick and curled an absolute beauty into the top left hand corner.
Marcos Alonso, of all people… https://t.co/Lreu5TwNcp— SB Nation Soccer (@SBNationSoccer) August 23, 2015
From then on, it was pretty much plain sailing for the viola and the points were sealed when hugely expensive summer signing Alessio Romagnoli fouled Iličić near the by-line. Iličić himself took the penalty, and thankfully there was no Sevilla style skyrocket from the Slovenian as he rolled his spot-kick into the bottom corner. Fiorentina controlled the rest of the second half and aside from two less than half chances from Carlos Bacca - who looked a million miles from the devastating striker we saw last season against Sevilla - Milan offered no response.
Both Astori and Suárez eventually made their debuts as substitutes, as Fiorentina kicked off their campaign in perfect style. There is no doubt that there will be tougher challenges ahead but the teamwork ethic in the squad has clearly continued and there seems plenty to be optimistic about.
Tata ⛳️ Tomo Gonzo ⭐️ Ronca Gilberto Badelj Borja Alonso Iličić Berna Kalinić— #Bantz Nation (@Viola_Nation) August 23, 2015