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.
The other matchups in the Round of 16 are Atalanta vs Sassuolo, Inter Milan vs Pordenone (please let the Serie C outfit win), and Lazio vs Cittadella (a Serie B outfit that blasted Bologna 0-3).