With morale at an all time low, Fiorentina got to host a formidable Sassuolo team that had the potential to make things even worse. Luckily, we got an appearance by a vintage Fiorentina team, who, despite plenty of wasted chances, was able to take advantage of Sassuolo's leaky defense.
Fiorentina immediately got off to the best start in weeks - Cristian Tello and Marcos Alonso started of by rampaging on the wings while Matias Vecino created chances from the middle of the pitch. The poor Uruguayan still can't buy a goal, but he had the best chances early on, including a few long range bombs.
Borja Valero and Milan Badelj soon would also get involved, and 10 minutes in, Gonzalo Rodriguez bombed foward to get his head on the end of a Badelj curl, following a short Borja corner. Vintage stuff from the captain. Fiorentina continued to dominate after this, showing the most confidence seen in a while, but unfortunately no other goals, except for an offsides one by Alonso which would have been very nice. Nikola Kalinic and Josip Ilicic were also involved in the first half, although the former still seems unable to remember how to finish.
The second half started with a less welcome Fiorentina tradition as Sassuolo took over play and the hosts responded with confusing, accumulating in an equalzier by Domenico Berardi around the 55th minute, after Facundo Roncaglia and Nenad Tomovic were completely out of position.
Thankfully Fiorentina responded immediately, with Ilicic restoring the lead off a beautiful volley from the top of the box, following an Alonso cross. Ilicic restored the team's confidence, and Fiorentina took control again as Federico Bernardeschi and Mauro Zarate were subbed on.
At the 82nd minute, Fiorentina managed to unintentionally seal the victory after Sassuolo keeper Andrea Consigli managed to clip the ball over his own goal line, a hilarious highlight that will likely overshadow Fiorentina's otherwise convincing performance. This reinforces Fiorentina's hold on 5th place, which may not encourage the Europa League haters among you, and also keeps the dream of 3rd place alive for now.
Overall, a much needed improvement. Fiorentina's possession play was mainly positive, with the Borja, Badelj, and Vecino trio in fine form, improved wing play from Tello and Alonso, and it's always a good day when Bomber Gonzalo gets a goal. Ilicic of course had his best game in a while.
Nevertheless, there's still plenty of concerns that may be an issue against teams less positive than Sassuolo. Kalinic is still playing as if the Space Jam Monstars decided to switch from basketball to football and selected the Croatian to steal talent from - he's working hard but his finishing and positioning is still out of wack. Relying on magic from Ilicic or Zarate is always playing with fire, and if it wasn't for Consigli's tragicomic own goal, the last 10 minutes could have been a lot more scary. The back line continues to show questionable positioning, if only because Roncaglia and Tomovic are generally clueless.
These issues aside, Fiorentina is now just two points behind Inter and six behind Roma, and so a positive result against Udinese on Wednesday could yet again flip the season narrative. Dreams aside, this was the most fun Fiorentina performance in a while, and the most important thing right now is to finish off the season with a return of the entertaining Viola side that we have been missing lately.