In a match-up between Fiorentina and a team you never heard of, there was actually a lot on the line for both clubs. In the current standings Benevento Calcio has 0 points. They have lost all of their first 8 games and are looking to stop the record at that. If they lose against Fiorentina the team will hold the record for the most consecutive losses to start a Serie A season. Benevento should be motivated to win right? Just a quick little history about the team, you may not have heard of them because Benevento was promoted to Serie A for the first time ever this season. The club was originally founded in 1929, but refounded in 2005. They finally made it to the top level and so far look like they may need more seasoning in the lower ranks. Also fun fact, Benevento is known as the magic capital of Italy and the teams nickname is the Stregoni or the Wizards. They may need some magic to help them against Stefano Pioli’s team.
As far as Fiorentina is concerned, this game was important too. After starting the day in the 11th spot on the table, Stefano Pioli wanted to string a few wins together. What better team to continue a winning streak against than a winless one? The lineup was pretty standard as far as Pioli is concerned, but maybe some young players would get in the match with a weaker opponent and a quick turnaround against Torino on Wednesday. Three points were a must here in the young season.
The match started off in typical Fiorentina fashion, meaning there was a lot passing in the middle of the pitch and nothing else was really happening. It took until the fourth minute for the team to have some real action. That came via a foul by Giovanni Simeone. Just when we thought everything was going to be alright, Benevento jumped in with a cross to Pietro Iemmello that forced fans’ hearts to skip a beat. Iemmello struck the ball with his head and missed the goal high. In a counter la viola (although they were wearing blue today), made a go at goal. Marco Benassi took the shot looking for his first score of the season and decided to aim right at goalkeeper Alberto Brignoli in the 7th minute. The next big chance was a cross in by the “top notch” left back Cristiano Biraghi...it shockingly did not find a Fiorentina foot.
Biraghi finally showed an ounce of why Stefano Pioli may think he is decent at free kicks today. With Fiorentina awarded a free kick Biraghi took the shot from near the corner kick area. He could have been trying to cross the ball, but instead almost scored a crazy upper corner winner. Instead he hit the post and all is normal in the world. In the 17th minute, we had our first goal of the match by Marco Benassi. It was a nice play from a layoff by Giovanni Simeone. Benassi scored his first goal of the season, maybe now la Viola will get what they paid for.
In the 26th minute, Federico Chiesa showed how awesome he really is. While recovering on a Benevento attack, Chiesa possessed the ball and kind of toyed with the Benevento attackers in the corner. It was a lot of fun to watch the young kid keep the ball with such precision. Fast forwarding to the 33rd minute, Giovanni Simeone broke away from the pack and aimed right at goalkeeper Alberto Brignoli. Within a couple seconds after Simeone’s shot, Fiorentina had a corner kick with a missed header by German Pezzella. At least they were getting chances.
Maybe this made Benevento a little angry, because they came right down the pitch and had their greatest opportunity of the match so far. Midfielder Danilo Cataldi struck the ball from just outside the box and it stung the post right past Marco Sportiello’s hands. Benevento was starting too look less like a Serie B team and more like a Serie A team. It is possible they were getting a little frustrated though because in the 40th minute, Raman Chibsah earned a yellow card with a hard foul. Honestly, he probably shouldn’t have got the yellow, but oh well. Milan Badelj had not done much in the first half, but he did give up a crucial foul to Nicolas Viola (shouldn’t he play for Fiorentina?) outside the box. Luckily for the guys wearing blue today, Benevento missed the free kick in the 45th minute. Right before the half German Pezzella received a yellow card for a hard tackle. At the half the score was 1-0 Fiorentina on top.
First move of the second half was the entrance of Khouma Babacar. Maybe Giovanni Simeone was injured. Injured or not, it seems like Babacar was the right move as he scored within two minutes of being in the game. They needed replay to confirm the goal, but Babacar was onside and has his first goal of the season. The Senegalese striker seems to be on a mission today, real inspired football out of the young lad.
Swedish striker Samuel Armenteros came in for Pietro Iemmello in the 55th minute. Lots of changes at striker today. Benevento kept missing their chances, eventually they might get a legitimate shot on goal in the game, but hopefully not.
After a bit of an uneventful 15 minutes post goal, Chiesa took a shot that went wide. Fiorentina was possessing the ball and seemingly looking forward to their next match already. Babacar drew a penalty in the box as goalkeeper Alberto Brignoli tripped up the striker. Shaky call, but it went in Fiorentina’s favor. Cyril Thereau took the PK on a great shot. With a hesitation step to see where Brignoli was going to go, Thereau struck the ball just under the crossbar straight above where the keeper was originally. El Khouma Babacar wanted to take the shot, but the veteran Thereau convinced him otherwise.
Amato Ciciretti, the Tattoo covered man, was removed for Cristiano Lombardi in the 70th minute for Benevento. This occurred right after Ciciretti committed a hard foul on Cristiano Biraghi. Fiorentina removed Federico Chiesa for Simone Lo Faso. This was Lo Faso’s first appearance of the season for la Viola. The 19 year old should be fun to watch.
Benevento had a great chance to score on a corner kick in the 80th minute. Otherwise, it has been mostly Fiorentina possession game in the second half. Sebastian Cristoforo came in for Jordan Veretout in the 83rd minute. Benevento threatened in the 86th minute with a strike from Cristiano Lombardi. All in all Benevento looked over-matched all day. To add some drama to the match, Simone Lo Faso decided to get a little exciting and take on most of the Benevento side. He just missed a shot over the cross bar with a stinger from just outside the box. It is exciting to see the potential from the young Italian. Just when we thought the game was over, Cyril Thereau broke away from the Benevento defenders and shot right at the hands of Alberto Brignoli in the 95th minute. Any other striker probably would have scored. Oh well 3-0 is a nice win for la Viola.
Overall, it was a good win for Fiorentina. There are certain matches that the team has to win because they are expected to. Benevento is one of those teams that la Viola has to defeat. They took care of business and look to be building the chemistry fans are striving for. Tactically, Milan Badelj needs to stop getting so many chances. Also it would be nice to see more guys like Lo Faso. Ianis Hagi is one of those guys that needs an opportunity soon. The team is performing a lot better and has a short time between this match and their next one. It will be interesting to see if Pioli gives some other players opportunities with the quick turnarounds this week.
Marco Sportiello - 9 - The goalkeeper had a clean sheet and was not tested often. He did exactly what we expect him to do and had no real blunders. That is not good news for Bartlomiej Dragowski though.
Vincent Laurini - 7 - Laurini was fine, that has really been the mantra of all the fullbacks this season. He is the clear first choice right back at this point for Pioli. Did not do anything super impressive.
Germán Pezzella - 8 - The only blemish in Pezzella’s game today was the yellow card he received. Pezzella was the best defender on the pitch and even had a chance at goal in the first half.
Davide Astori - 7 - The captain was, well, the captain. He is one of the most consistent defenders in Serie A and did that again today. Benevento had no real threats on goal for all match.
Cristiano Biraghi - 8 - Believe it or not Biraghi was not terrible against Benevento. That is a step in the right direction. He almost scored a crazy free kick goal. Positive reinforcement is good, keep it up Cristiano.
Milan Badelj - 5 - Why didn’t Fiorentina transfer this guy? If you watched this match, you would not even know Badelj was playing until he gave up a foul at the end of the first half. Someone else needs to get more time in the midfield. Maybe move Benassi back or even give Cristoforo a bigger chance.
Jordan Veretout - 7 - The Frenchman has had a decent first season in Florence. Of late, the midfielder has had a little trouble making an impact on the game. He was decent against Benevento. No real crazy plays of note, but was in on the second goal of the match with an assist.
Marco Benassi - 8 - Benassi scored his first goal for Fiorentina! That is exciting news for the midfielder that has had a bit of a hard time adjusting to Stefano Pioli’s scheme. Benassi has to be a factor if Fiorentina plans on getting back into European football.
Federico Chiesa - 7 - Decent match from the young lad. Chiesa always brings the energy you want to see out of a winger. He puts himself and his teammates into great opportunities to score. Also he had that fun dribbling session in the first half.
Cyril Thereau - 8 - The veteran Frenchman had a great game. Any scoring chance had Thereau’s footprint on it. Not to mention his fantastic penalty kick. Thereau is really hit or miss, today he was a hit.
Giovanni Simeone - 7 - Simeone only played in the first half. The young Argentinian assisted on the opening goal of the match to Marco Benassi. Otherwise, it was a quiet day for the striker. It is possible he has an injury and may not be available against Torino on Wednesday.
Khouma Babacar - 8 - It was one of those games where Babacar looked like the guy we all thought he was going to be 5 years ago. The longtime Fiorentina man came in and scored a goal right away. He also drew a penalty in the box and was a step ahead of everyone else on the pitch.
Simone Lo Faso - 6.5 - It was obvious why Lo Faso has not seen any time so far on the pitch for Fiorentina. With all the exciting touches the young lad had, he also commited a ton of fouls. Lo Faso is a work in progress, he definitely needs more time with the first team. Most of the young players do too.
Sebastian Cristoforo - 5 - Honestly Cristoforo did not play enough to get a real sample of how he played. The Uruguyan did not do anything completely terrible so at least he didn’t hurt the team in garbage time.