We’re back in action in Serie A, and this 9th round of the season sees Fiorentina travel to Benevento for the first-ever meeting between these two sides.
The referee for this one is Claudio Gavillucci, most recently seen in the 2-2 draw at Sassuolo last year. Overall, the Viola are W1 D3 under his watch. In Serie A this season, he’s been a bit of a loose cannon: in 4 matches, he’s awarded 4 penalties and handed out 22 yellow cards, along with 1 red.
The match will be played Sunday, 22 October 2017, at 2 PM GMT/9 AM EST, at the Stadio Ciro Vigorito in Benevento, Italy.
While their unlikely climb into Serie A is the stuff which dreams are made of, it’s been a nightmare of a season for the Stregoni, who are yet to notch their first point in the top flight. They’ve scored all of 2 goals—worst in the league—and have conceded 19—joint-worst in the league—so it’s safe to say that, by the numbers, they deserve their spot at the bottom of the table.
Manager Marco Baroni, who did so well to bring the Campanians to the top flight, doesn’t seem to have any answers. On the plus side, the native Florentine and former Fiorentina defender (well, he made 1 appearance, but still) can ask his son Riccardo, a former Primavera defender who’s currently on loan with Lucchese, for the inside scoop on his opponents.
He’ll likely stick with his 4-3-3 formation, featuring Viola loanee Lorenzo Venuti at rightback and ex-Primavera star Pietro Iemello up top. He has a bit of a crisis at the back, where centerbacks Andrea Costa (hamstring), Luca Antei (suspension), and Fabio Lucioni (suspension) are all out, along with wingers Fabrizio Melara (suspsension) and possibly Marco D’Alessandro (ankle). With a makeshift defense, expect a deep block, lots of fouls, and an attempt to slow down the match from the hosts.
Fresh off a Cyril Théréau-inspired win over Udinese (holy smokes that felt weird to write), things are maybe looking up for Fiorentina? Heck, I don’t know. This team’s so dang weird they’re capable of folding back up again, but we’re starting to see some encouraging signs, at least. Sitting in 11th place, a win could launch them back into the top half of the table.
Manager Stefano Pioli will be without winger Gil Dias (foot) and trequartista Riccardo Saponara (foot). While some pundits have suggested that he could switch to a 4-3-3, we expect him to continue with the 4-2-3-1 with Marco Benassi pulled a bit deeper than usual, as he was against the Friulians. We’ve also heard rumblings that Valentin Eysseric could get a rare start as the number 10, but we’re not going to believe that until it’s happened.
Facing a defense playing a number of guys in unfamiliar positions, Pioli will probably want to ask questions early, which means we could see a lot of long passes into the channels for Giovanni Simeone to chase. Too, Federico Chiesa should get some chances to switch wings and run at Venuti, who still doesn’t seem fully adjusted to Serie A. Since the Stregoni are likely to spend much of the match with 11 men behind the ball, Jordan Veretout will also have a very important role in unlocking the defense with some creative passing.
How to watch
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Ted’s Memorial Blind Guess Department
With all due respect to Benevento, whose rise to the top flight has been wonderful to watch, they simply haven’t looked like a Serie A outfit thus far, and with the personnel crisis at the back, I don’t see any way that the Viola don’t score in this one. Therefore, I’m calling it an 0-2 win for Fiorentina, with Simeone bulldozing his way through the backline for the first and substitute Khouma Babacar popping up to turn home a Chiesa cross for the second.