For the second week in a row, Fiorentina will play a team that started the season hot, has since cooled off, and is coached by a former Viola mister. This time, it’s Torino and Sinisa Mihajlovic, whom you may remember as being even more negative than Paulo Sousa during his stint in Florence, although he’s opened things up a bit with il Toro.
The Granati won the away fixture in Turin by a score of 2-1, although the Gigliati certainly had chances to win outright if not tie. The goalscorers were Iago Falque, Andrea Belotti, and Khouma Babacar. Over their last 10 Serie A matchups, Fiorentina are W3 D5 L2, including 11 points from the 5 matches in Florence.
The referee for this one is Piero Giacomelli, who’s directed 7 Fiorentina matches in his career, encompassing 4 wins, 1 draw, and 2 defeats. His most recent Viola action was the 2-1 win against Palermo last season.
The match will be played on Monday, 27 February 2018, at 8:45 PM CET/2:45 PM EST, at the Stadio Artemio Franchi.
This is not a team that’s having a good time right now. A complete meltdown against Borussia Monchengladbach knocked them out of Europe, leading club management to have a long talk about whether or not to fire manager Paulo Sousa now or wait until the end of the year when his contract runs out. The referendum ended with Sousa sticking around, although you have to worry that the squad knows he’s just playing out the string.
The Portuguese mister will be minus goalkeeper Bartlomiej Dragowski (knee) and leftback Hrvoje Milic (nose), but that shouldn’t trouble him over much. We’ve heard rumors that he plans to drop Borja Valero back into the midfield, rather than use him as a number 10, which would open a space for either Josip Ilicic or Riccardo Saponara. Otherwise, this will be more or less his first choice XI. Whether or not that inspires any confidence at this point is another discussion entirely.
Tactically, what more can we say? We know what this team will do: pass the ball neatly around the middle of the pitch, falter going forward, and hope that Federico Bernardeschi or someone else can pull some magic out of his ass to rescue a point or three.
After starting this season red hot, il Toro has cooled off quite a bit, falling to 9th in the table with 37 points, which puts them 3 behind Fiorentina. They’ve remained fairly notable in the English-language media, at least, as the temporary home of England number one Joe Hart, but have lately sunk into midtable anonymity.
Mihajlovic will be without centerback Carlao (leg) and midfielder Joel Obi (hamstring); centerbacks Luca Rossettini (leg) and Leandro Castan (thigh) are both questionable. The injuries in defense may open a space for ex-Viola man Lorenzo de Silvestri, although Arlind Ajeti is more likely to get the nod. Mirko Valdifiori is expected to be healthy enough to start, partnering Marco Benassi and Daniele Baselli in the middle. Up top, it’ll be the quick, technical, and lethal trio of Andrea Belotti, Iago Falque, and Nutella Boy Adem Ljajic.
Despite all the attacking talent, this is still a Miha team, so they like to grind out results. However, the passing ability in the middle and the creativity on the wings, not to mention Belotti’s 17 goals in 22 appearances, means this is an outfit that can score a heap of goals in a hurry. They’ll try to switch play quickly to get one of their wingers in a one-on-one against a defender, which is a bit scary, but they are prone to collapse at the back as well, having conceded 4 against AS Roma last week and 3 against a pre-Zeman Zdenek Pescara the week before.
How to watch
TV: BeIn is carrying this one live.
Online: Here is a list of safe, legal, and reliable streams.
Ted’s Memorial Blind Guess Department
Honestly, it’s hard to be optimistic about this one. Belotti’s been scoring like a maniac, Ljajic will almost certainly have a good match against his former club, and Torino just generally have a side packed full of quality. They are shaky at the back, though, but so are Fiorentina. That said, let’s make it 3-2 to the hosts, as a Kalinic brace and a debut strike from Saponara prove enough to overcome goals from Belotti and Ljajic.