Fiorentina may not have qualified for Europe last year, but Viola fans still have a cup competition to look forward to: the Coppa Italia. Unfortunately, this could be another brief campaign in the tournament, as this year’s opponent is a red-hot Sampdoria.
The Viola dropped straight into the Round of 16 due to their finish in the Serie A table last season. Samp, on the other hand, entered the draw in the previous (4th) round, where they smacked Pescara 4-1 behind a brace from 20-year-old striker Dawid Kownacki and goals from Gastón Ramírez and Gianluca Caprari.
For those of you who haven’t looked at the Serie A table much this year because it hurts, the Blucerchiati sit in an impressive 6th place. Veteran manager Marco Giampaolo has built a fun, attacking side that’s packed with technical quality, pace, and clever passing. Setting out in a 4-3-1-2, he packs the midfield full of playmakers with the freedom to drift around the pitch, which makes marking them a tricky proposition. Strikers Fabio Quagliarella and Duván Zapata have combined for 12 goals in Serie A already. What I’m saying is that this is a good team.
Given Fiorentina’s past couple performances in the Coppa, it’s hard to get excited here. Last year was a 1-0 loss at Napoli in the Round of 16 after a 1-0 win over Chievo Verona. 2015 featured a 0-1 loss to Carpi in the Round of 16. After a finals appearance in 2013, it’s been pretty downhill.
On the other hand, this could be a good year for the Viola in the Coppa. With no distractions from Europe, Stefano Pioli may field a strong side and look to progress; after all, a Coppa win is probably Fiorentina’s most realistic (albeit still very unlikely) chance of Europa League qualification. It could also give us a chance to see underutilized youngsters like Bartłomiej Drągowski, Nikola Milenković, Ianis Hagi, and Simone Lo Faso, which will make it worth watching.