We’re back out of the international break and ready to get calcio going again, and not a moment too soon. This week’s matchup pits Fiorentina against Udinese in a decidely mid-table matchup of 12th and 13th. In their last 10 against the Zebretti, the Viola are W6 D2 L2, scoring 17 and conceding 12.
The referee for this one is Massimiliano Irrati of Pistoia. He’s got a pretty poor past with the Viola; in 4 matches, the good guys are D1 L3, including 3 defeats in a row, the most recent being last year’s 4-0 loss at AS Roma. The only draw, coincidentally, was the 2-2 one at Udinese in 2015. This year, he’s handled 3 Serie A matches, handing out 7 yellow cards and 3 penalties.
The match will be played Sunday, 15 October 2017, at 11:30 AM GMT/6:30 AM EST, at the Stadio Artemio Franchi.
Things have not been great in Florence of late; the Viola are W2 D1 L2 over their past 5, and most recently crapped the bed against a very beatable Chievo Verona team. The squad looks to be in disarray, with no idea what they’re doing and the sort of cohesive, holistic vision in attack and defense that you’d expect from a Sunday pub team rather than a bunch of professionals playing for one of the most historic clubs in Serie A.
Manager Stefano Pioli will be short trequartista Riccardo Saponara (foot) and winger Gil Dias (foot), limiting his options in attack. This could present fans with the vomitous prospect of yet another match with Marco Benassi and Cyril Théréau in the first XI, although Valentin Eysseric could also feature prominently. Otherwise, the usual suspects should get the start.
Pioli will be under a lot of pressure to get his side to play a more coherent brand of football after a catastrophic performance against the Flying Donkeys, so we could see a much more positive approach than usual as Fiorentina will try to set the tone and get the fans behind them. Against a side like Udinese, though, this can prove suicidal, as the Friulians excel at soaking up pressure and hitting on the break. It’s an undeniably tricky balance Pioli must strike between showing a commitment to improving his charges and not throwing away the work he’s already done with the team.
It’s been business as usual this year for Italy’s second-oldest club. They’re in 12th place with just 6 points and a -1 goal difference, but no one in their right mind thinks they’re a candidate for relegation. In their last 5, they’re W2 L3, but are coming off of a 4-0 stomping of Sampdoria. There probably isn’t an outfit in Italy that’s as good at manufacturing safety every year in the most boring way possible: with good defensive organization, intelligent combination play on the break, and physical play all over the pitch.
Manager Luigi Delneri has switched between a 4-4-2 and a 4-3-3 this season, but we’re expecting the former, which will allow for a compact squad that will sit deep and threaten with long balls and on set pieces. Without centerback and club captain Danilo (hamstring) and rightback Jens Larsen (hamstring), the defense could be a bit shaky, but the Zebretti will welcome back rightback Sylvan Widmer.
As ever, Delneri’s men will be well-drilled and tough to break down. Expect the midfield to pressure Jordan Veretout and Milan Badelj like crazy and try to force the Viola into long balls into the box. Basically, the strategy is to make Fiorentina play exactly how they’ve been playing all season. Also keep an eye out for ex-Gigliati men Valon Behrami and Ryder Matos.
How to watch
TV: In Asia and Oceania, check BeIn Sports, as they’re carrying this one in a number of places. UK residents should have a look at BT Sport 3. Check here for more listings.
Online: Here is your list of safe, reliable, and legal streams.
Ted’s Memorial Blind Guess Department
I’m calling a 2-1 win for the hosts behind a Veretout strike from a free kick and a Simeone tap-in from a Chiesa cross, while Kevin Lasagna (Lasagna!) heads one in from a set piece for the visitors.