Although Chelsea fielded mostly substitutes with the Premier League starting this weekend, it is clear this Fiorentina team has a lot more confidence than expected after a difficult transfer window, ending the International Champion's Cup on a strong note.
Fiorentina looked dangerous from the get go, although Chelsea probably had the best chances and dominated possession. Man of the match Gonzalo Rodriguez lead the backline to make a few heroic clearances in the first half, while the two "Matíases," Fernández and Vecino, threatened for Fiorentina.
34 minutes in, our "bomber" Gonzalo got the only goal of the game by taking advantage of a deflection by Chelsea keeper Asmir Begovic after a strong shot by Marcos Alonso in the box.
Giuseppe Rossi start the second half in the place of a disappointing Khouma Babacar, with bundles more subs coming later on in the half. The second half was a disjointed affair, but Fiorentina was able to maintain more possession and continue to threaten on occasion.
While it is important to note this was a friendly against a team who has one eye on the weekend, the victory in London makes the performance against Barcelona look less like a fluke and more like a promise of things to come.
Things We Learned
- For those of us skeptical of Paulo Sousa, this was another encouraging performance. While the team is already playing a more pragmatic style, Fiorentina did not play "scared" against either Chelsea or Barcelona, and looked to attack in both games. At the very least, Sousa has gotten them to ignore the off-field noise and play with confidence.
- The midfield continues to be a point of strength, as it was under Vincenzo Montella. Matí was excellent, Vecino had arguably his best game in purple, and new signing Mario Suarez was everything he was advertised to be in his first start, combative with glimpses of attacking potential.
- Gilberto also got his Viola debut, and he was more promising than some of us were probably expecting, playing as a sort-of right-wingback and linking with the other playmakers nicely. Nenad Tomovic and Alonso also had mostly good games, although Gonzalo was exceptional.
- The forwards were probably the weak link last night, although Josip Ilicic and Ante Rebic generated chances. Rossi looked tired but continues to keep up with the game and get touches; him being involved in play and reacquainting himself with game speed remains priority considering how much time he missed.
Overall, there is a lot to be happy about as the Sousa era gets started for real very soon, and while the preseason anxiety isn't over with yet, we should be proud of where the team is right now.