Federico Chiesa got a surprise start ahead of Cristian Tello, while Maxi Olivera started over Hrvoje Milic. Beyond that the one significant surprise was the absence of Borja Valero, who was rested, enabling the starting midfield pivot to be the effective combination of Milan Badelj and Matias Vecino, who were industrious even if possession was lost.
After a hectic first 10 minutes where Sassuolo looked particularly dangerous, Nikola Kalinic scored a crazy volley to give Fiorentina an early lead following a Josip Ilicic free kick that hit the wall. This was the striker’s first Serie A home goal since April (against Juventus) and also Fiorentina’s first in the opening 15 minutes this season.
Sassuolo continued to threaten and it was only some brilliant play from Ciprian Tatarusanu to keep Fiorentina with a lead. The vistors were particularly dangerous on the wings as Maxi Olivera and especially Carlos Salcedo struggled heavily - he will have nightmares about Antonino Ragusa after this one.
Kalinic made it 2-0 after Federico Chiesa, who was dangerous all first half, beat his man and sent in a cross to Kalinic, who managed to convert it with a spinning backheel flick. If you haven’t already done so check it out here.
Sassuolo continued to dominate but Fiorentina had their chanced, often coming from an ultra aggressive CB pairing of Gonzalo Rodrigues and Davide Astori pressing up high. Tello came on for Ilicic 69 minutes in to make the team more dangerous on the break.
At 76’ in, Francesco Acerbi knocked in a 10 yard shot for a deserved goal following a hectic failure to clear the ball. A rattled Fiorentina managed to survive to the final whistle, spending the last few minutes simply kicking the ball away frollowing the entry of Carlos Sanchez for Federico Bernardeschi.
Overall another important win, but Fiorentina was yet again not very convincing and relied more on individual brilliance than sustained dominance to get anywhere. Nevertheless, the aggressive high pushing was a welcome sight.
Nikola Kalinic - The Croatian sensation has recently shown signs of last year’s first half form, and is now up to 8 goals in 15 games. His brace included two great goals, and while he was off target in the second half he continued to work hard.
Federico Chiesa - The 19 year old got a well deserved first assist in Serie A, and dare I say often looked like his father out there. Dangerous all game.
Milan Badelj - He was a steady force in the midfield. Although possession suffered, he orchestrated plays from deep, and defended well when necessary. We desperately need a replacement.
Ciprian Tatarusanu - The Romanian keeper is the only reason this game didn’t have a dramatically different start, and if the scoreline flatters Fiorentina, he is the reason why. Excellent stuff.
Carlos Salcedo - He has been up and down this year, and this might have been his worst game yet. The Mexican often looked clueless out there and could have been sent off a few times.
Cristian Tello - The winger wasn’t bad per se but continues to be let down by his end product. He had his chances and arguably did what he was subbed in to do, but if he doesn’t find a way to become more effective he is at serious risk of falling further down in the depth chart.