Fiorentina kick off their Coppa Italia campaign against an impressive Sampdoria tomorrow. The last time these two met, the Blucerchiati ran out as 1-2 winners at the Franchi back in August, which in hindsight isn’t a terrible result.
Over their last 10 matches, the Viola are W4 D4 L2 against the Genovese outfit, scoring 15 and conceding 10, although the last win came on 11 August 2015.
The referee for this one is Rosario Abisso of Palermo, who’s developed a reputation for having an itchy trigger finger in just 14 Serie A matches: 59 yellow cards, 5 red cards, and 9 penalties. This will be his first time in charge of a Fiorentina game.
The match will be played on Wednesday, 13 December 2017, at 4:30 PM GMT/11:30 AM EST, at the Stadio Artemio Franchi in Florence.
The Viola have vaulted right into the last 16 of the domestic cup based on their position in the Serie A table last year, which was just good enough to see them into this round. The Gigliati have been rather woeful in the Coppa since Vincenzo Montella left town, so would be a good time to reverse the rot that took hold during Paulo Sousa’s tenure.
Things are starting to click for Fiorentina, although a record over their last five matches of W1 D3 L1 doesn’t really show that. However, promising defensive performances against the powerhouse attacks of Napoli and Lazio show that the team is starting to figure things out on that end, although the attack remains direly bad.
The main question here is how seriously Stefano Pioli will take this match. After a gutsy and exhausting performance against the Partenopei, he may opt to rotate his side significantly to keep his first XI fresh for a winnable match against Genoa on Sunday, but he may feel some pressure to field his strongest team, too, as a Coppa triumph is likely Fiorentina’s only route to European competition next year. That said, this is a tailor-made opportunity to give youngsters like Bartłomiej Drągowski, Nikola Milenković, Ianis Hagi, Simone Lo Faso, and Rafik Zekhnini some minutes.
The Blucerchiati crushed Pescara 4-1 in the last round of the Coppa to get here, and are off to an impressive start in Serie A, riding high in 6th place. With 7 points from their last 5 Serie A matches, they seem to be moving right along, but fresh off a 2-2 draw at Cagliari, and with losses against Lazio and Bologna before that, this team could be in a beatable position right now.
Manager Marco Giampaolo has been excellent this year, using his 4-3-1-2 to flood the center of the pitch with technical quality featuring the likes of Lucas Torreira, Dennis Praet, and Gastón Ramírez, although he’ll miss the energy of Karol Linetty (thigh). Up front, Duván Zapata and Fabio Quagliarella have struck 15 goals between them; the 33 goals the team has in Serie A is 5th best and the main reason for their success. Their weakness is at the back: the defense has conceded 22 times, joint-10th in the league.
This will be a good test for Pioli’s midfield, as the Samp engine room is well-equipped to play around the man-marking system that the Viola mister employs in the middle. They’ll look to keep the ball and find the strikers in the channels, although they’ll surely be nervous about the damage that Federico Chiesa can cause down their left and could pull a midfielder deeper to help negate his threat.
How to watch
TV: This one will be on GolTV in the US. Here are the full international listings.
Online: Here is your list of safe, reliable, and legal streams.
Ted’s Memorial Blind Guess Department
This is well set up for the neutral, as Fiorentina’s energetic press and counter-attacking could cause Samp problems, although the visitors have the quality to control the game. We’ll call it a 2-1 to the good guys behind strikes from Chiesa and Marco Benassi, with “Mr. BS goals” Quagliarella notching a consolation from the bench.