After careful consideration, I believe we can go ahead and say that this was a wild one between Fiorentina and Napoli. Let's go a little deeper than that, though, with our usual look into the hard data. As always, numbers and pictures are from WhoScored and FourFourTwo.
|Shots (on goal)||Shots inside/outside area||Possession||Passes (short/long)||Passing success||Crosses/attempted||Dribbles/attempted||Aerial duels won/attempted||Tackles/attempted||Interceptions||Clearances||Fouls||Yellow/red cards||Corners||Offsides|
|Fiorentina||12 (1)||4/8||49%||623 (527/79)||82%||4/16||9/21||9/18||11/16||22||15||8||0/0||5||2|
|Napoli||6 (5)||4/2||51%||639 (562/61)||80%||2/16||5/12||9/18||21/30||8||20||16||1/0||3||4|
|Short passes/attempted||Long passes/attempted||Crosses/attempted||Touches||Shots (on target)||Shots inside/outside area||Dribbles/attempted||Possession lost||Tackles/attempted||Interceptions||Clearances||Aerial challenges won/attempted||Fouls committed/suffered||Yellow/red cards||Offsides||Saves||Goals||Assists||Minutes|
Man, Paulo Sousa had the boys amped up for this one. The early pressure on Napoli's midfield and defense was exemplary, and the commitment to getting the ball to Cristian Tello, Matías Fernández, Borja Valero, and Nikola Kalinić was really impressive. The focus on quick transitions meant that this is the first game in years in which Fiorentina haven't won the possession battle. This was most obvious in the centerbacks' distribution: Gonzalo Rodríguez and Davide Astori eschewed horizontal passing in favor 26 long passes between them. As they're both usually happy to keep possession, this was clearly per Sousa's instructions. Unfortunately, the incessant pressure through the first half clearly exhausted the team, making them less likely to chase down long balls from the back. A glance at Ciprian Tătăruşanu's distribution in the first and second halves tells the story: note how many fewer long balls he completed as his attackers got too tired to run into space.
While Sousa was brilliant in inspiring his players to run until they dropped, his substitution pattern was just weird. Tello and Valero especially looked completely blown by minute 70, and both had replacements. Instead, Josip Iličić sat on the bench until stoppage time, and Khouma Babacar, whose pace and strength would have been ideal for running the channels against a tired defense, stayed on the bench. In fairness, a point against Napoli is never a bad result, but the Viola rather lost their grip on this one when, with a couple of nudges, they could have maybe recaptured their first half mojo and sealed the deal.
Quick thoughts: It's worth mentioning again how perfectly Gonzalo and Astori complement each other; the former likes to step forward and track forwards who drop deep, whereas the latter naturally sweeps in behind. And speaking of odd Fiorentina defenders, Marcos Alsonso may have taken Iličić's mantle of "Most likely to do something great and/or terrible." The stats don't tell the whole story with Tello or Matías Vecino. The former looked lethal each time he touched the ball, and he was inches from getting a goal and an assist, as well as terrorizing Faouli Ghoulam all day. The latter, meanwhile, padded his passing numbers without providing much incision or drive. Just a reminder that the numbers are not and never will be the end-all, be-all. Finally, great to see Kalinić so much more involved than usual. Could be a sign he's close to breaking out of his funk.