Fiorentina showed some real grit for the first time in recent memory in hanging on to a 1-0 victory with a man down for the last half hour. So let's see if we can figure out the calculus for "grit" with the statistics we have here, which are all from WhoScored.com.
|Possession||Passes (short/long)||Passing success||Crosses/attempted||Dribbles/attempted||Shots (on target)||Shots inside/outside area||Tackles/attempted||Interceptions||Aerial duels (success rate)||Fouls||Yellow/red cards||Corners||Offsides|
|Fiorentina||47%||432 (366/51)||81%||4/14||6/11||11 (3)||6/5||8/17||15||24 (63%)||21||4/1||4||0|
|Genoa||53%||488 (405/62)||79%||6/20||9/16||12 (1)||4/8||8/14||14||24 (37%)||19||4/0||2||3|
|Short passes/attempted||Long passes/attempted||Crosses/attempted||Dribbles/attempted||Shots (on target)||Shots inside/outside area||Touches||Possession lost||Tackles/attempted||Interceptions||Successful aerial battles||Fouls committed/suffered||Yellow/red cards||Offsides||Saves||Goals||Assists||Minutes|
|Manuel Pasqual||21/26||0/2||1/6||0/0||1 (0)||0/1||42||2||0/3||3||3||1/2||0/0||0||0||0||0||90|
The two biggest talking points in this are, to me, linked. First off, nobody seems sure what formation Fiorentina were playing in. While it was nominally a 4-3-3, Giuseppe Rossi stayed central, Federico Bernardeschi stayed deep, and Borja Valero was often the highest player of the pitch. A good deal of this was, I think, intentional. Rossi, as a goal threat, prefers to work centrally. To maintain width on the left, Manuel Pasqual was pushed higher up the pitch, and the other three defenders shuffled left to compensate. Nenad Tomovic was therefore unable to stay wide, so Bernardeschi was forced to mark Diego Laxalt. Seeing this, Borja consistently moved high and right, which gave him time and space, as Genoa's midfielders were uncomfortable following him into the wide areas.
Sousa's moves after the red card were standard. Kalinic ended up being a useful addition due to his ability to hold up play and wins fouls (his brilliant flick put Kuba through on goal). Mario Suarez for Khouma Babacar added more steel to the midfield, and Kuba for Borja meant that Fiorentina could defend in two banks of four. The defensive organization after Milan Badelj's dismissal was outstanding.
And some other brief thoughts: Pasqual won more balls in the air than he probably ever has. Bernardeschi, while subdued going forward, was extremely energetic in defense; his heat map from the game shows that he operated as an auxiliary right back for the last half hour. For two guys who hadn't played together before, Davide Astori and Marcos Alonso were excellent. The former looks to be an excellent complement to Gonzalo: more of a sweeper than a marker (few defensive stats), and quite comfortable on the ball (led the team in touches). Alonso was more proactive, and looks a better fit at center-back than fullback.
Overall, Sousa's squad rotation was reasonably successful, and his original game plan and quick adjustments stifled Genoa's attack. While his teams haven't yet demonstrated the positive play we associate with Fiorentina, an excellent defensive performance like this is just what we were hoping for with him.