Get ready for a rare Serie A match on Monday under the lights, as a pair of Italian giants who’ve fallen on hard times this year clash at the San Siro. Both are fresh off 3-2 losses in the Europa League and sit much lower in the table than you’d expect from looking at their squads, and both will be desperately hoping a win over a quality opponent will get them rolling onto bigger and better things.
The referee for this one is Antonio Damato. He’s handled 28 Fiorentina matches in his career, resulting in W14 D2 L12, handing out 4 red cards and 9 penalties along the way. The astute Viola fan may recall that he handled the 1-4 Fiorentina win at the San Siro last year, which included a first-half sending off of Miranda.
The match will be played on Monday, 28 November 2016, at 8 PM CST/3 PM EST, at the Stadio San Siro in Milan.
Hoo boy, where do we start with Inter Milan? It’s been a tumultuous season to say the least, from the farcical tenure of Ronald Koeman to the ultras’ feud with captain Mauro Icardi to the series of astonishing losses for the once-proud Nerazzuri, most recently away at the hands of Israeli side Hapoel Beer Sheva. If we’re being completely honest, Inter are the only reason that the Viola aren’t the laughingstock of calcio.
New boss Stefano Pioli has, at the very least, inherited a squad chock-full of talented players. Thus far, he’s favored a 4-3-3 setup, frequently with an attacker on the left who likes to drift inside to help overload the middle. Much like in his Lazio days, he’s a very positive-minded coach who wants his players to move the ball quickly in possession. With some tricky players up top and some power in the middle, this is a balanced and dangerous team that’s been playing shockingly below its potential.
In the absence of centerback/midfielder Gary Medel (knee) and leftback Davide Santon (hamstring), Jeison Murillo and Cristian Ansaldi are excellent fill-ins. While Geoffery Kondogbia and Joao Mario are almost certain to start in midfield, their partner remains a mystery. Up top, the red-hot Icardi is the undoubted dangerman, with Antonio Candreva and Ivan Perisic likely to start on the wings.
A 3-2 loss at home to PAOK is hardly what the doctor ordered, but a lot of that was just weird international tournament stuff. Fiorentina’s Serie A form is pretty solid, having gone W3 D2 L0 in their last 5 behind the second-stingiest defense in the league. The goals are starting to come, too, although some of that is just better finishing from the players rather than Paulo Sousa changing anything.
Sousa will have to do without Cristian Tello (suspended—yellow card accumulation), as well as long-term absentee Hernan Toledo (thigh). With few options on the wings, expect him to push Borja Valero forward into the playmaker spot, with Josip Ilicic moving to the right so he can cut in and shoot. Another option would be to start Federico Chiesa, but that’s a big ask of a teenager in his first season with the senior side. Matias Vecino is probably first man up to partner Milan Badelj in the midfield. At the back, Nenad Tomovic and Hrvoje Milic have performed poorly of late, so Carlos Salcedo and Maxi Olivera are the likely picks at fullback.
Given the quality Inter possess in the middle and out wide, Fiorentina may be a bit more cautious here, willing to concede possession in favor of maintaining a defensive shape. As both Ilicic and Federico Bernardeschi like to move inside, how the Viola cope with a pair of forward-minded Inter fullbacks could well decide the match.
How to watch
TV: If you’ve got BeIn, you should definitely look for this one.
Online: If you don’t have BeIn, you can watch safely and legally here instead.
Ted’s Memorial Blind Guess Department
Pioli clearly still doesn’t have Inter playing the way he wants, so this seems like a good place for Fiorentina to nick 3 points. Let’s say 1-2 to the visitors behind an Ilicic penalty and a Kalinic tap-in, with Icardi on the scoresheet for the hosts.