Fiorentina will travel to Portugal for their next friendly, against twinned club Sporting of Lisbon. While it’s always fun to play a talented side that’s on good terms with you, this one is marred by the death of 41-year-old Viola fan Mario Ficini, who traveled to support Sporting in their derby against Benfica last season. During a clash in the street between Benfica and Sporting fans, he was struck by a car while trying to escape the violence and died the next day in the hospital. The teams will have a moment of silence for him before kickoff.
The match will be played at 5 PM CET/12 PM EST on Saturday, 29 July 2017, at the Estádio José Alvalade in Lisbon, Portugal. The winner will take home the Five Violins trophy, which is something that definitely exists and isn’t made up at all.
Sporting was founded in 1906, and os Leões have been one of the most successful clubs in Portugal ever since. They’ve won the league 18 times, although not since 2002, and have 16 Portuguese Cups, including their most recent in 2015. They also won the Cup Winners’ Cup (predecessor to the Europa League) in 1964. They’ve also been one of Fiorentina’s sister clubs for decades, so this one should contain some nice moments between the home and traveling supporters. It could have been even friendlier had Paulo Sousa—a former Sporting star—stuck around, but we’re pretty okay with how it’s worked out.
Manager Jorge Jesus has a really fun squad, particularly going forward. He generally sets out in a 4-2-3-1 formation with Primeira Liga golden boot winner Bas Dost up top and star winger Gelson Martins on the right. The midfield pairing of William Carvalho and Adrien Silva is as good as just about anyone’s in the world. The only real weakness is at the back, where leadfooted but clever Sebastián Coates anchors a backline that features some very attack-minded fullbacks. There are also a number of familiar faces in the side, as ex-Viola rightback Cristiano Piccini just signed for them and former Serie A players Bruno Fernandes and Seydou Doumbia are also in the rotation.
The pressure is very much on the Viola right now, as manager Stefano Pioli and captain Davide Astori have both publicly wondered where the reinforcements are. As things stand, this squad is unbelievably thin and probably doesn’t have a chance in hell of actually winning this one. We will, however, get a chance to see Jordan Veretout’s debut in midfield, which should help us figure out if he’s the real deal or not.
This will be a return home for Matías Fernández, who signed on from Sporting back in 2012. He may even get to start if Pioli wants to ease Ricardo Saponara back into the lineup. Other than that, we’ll see the usual mix of veterans and youth products. Guys like Ianis Hagi, Rafik Zekhnini, Abdou Diakhate, and Jaime Báez will be desperate to show their value to the Gigliati management for the upcoming campaign.
How to watch
TV: Nope nope nope.
Online: Viola Channel will stream this one live, as will several other Fiorentina-related outlets. Sporting will probably have a stream on their site as well.