The new season is back and to kick things off Pioli went with a 4-2-3-1 system with some surprises. Gil Dias and Giovanni Simeone, who only signed recently for the club and barely trained, were thrown straight into the firing line. Also, Nenad Tomovic got in front of Bruno Gaspar for the opening game. As far as the hosts go, they went with former Viola players Borja Valero and Matias Vecino who both started the game. Similarly to Fiorentina, it was a 4-2-3-1 system for the Nerazzurri.
It only took until the fourth minute for the first moment of drama as the newly appointed captain Davide Astori fouled Mauro Icardi. The Argentine was looking for the penalty and Astori did pull his leg away from the striker but it was clumsy from Astori. To no surprise, Icardi stepped up and sent Marco Sportiello the wrong way. It was the worst possible start for Pioli’s men. Inter, however, were in full flight. A few minutes later Vecino almost got one over his former employers as he got onto a Nagatomo cross but just didn't connect with it as he missed the target. A familiar sight for Viola fans.
15 minutes in, things went from bad to worse. Inter Milan’s key attacking players combined in Ivan Perisic and Icardi. The former whipped in a peach of a ball in for Icardi who rose above Tomovic to nod home. Fiorentina had simply not started, a polar opposite to their hosts. It was Icardi’s ninth goal against Fiorentina in 11 games, a sensational record for the attacker.
Inter were playing some brilliant stuff. After a swift attacking move Brozovic was charging down on goal who then forced Sportiello into a fantastic low save to his right. The Nerazzurri midfield was absolutely dominating the Viola’s midfield trio. Borja Valero was showing the Viola fans what they were missing.
It took until the 26th minute for Fiorentina to really test Samir Handanovic. It was good looking delivery from Eysseric who found Giovanni Simeone who was stretched to get a head but got good contact which forced the Slovenian into a good stop.
On the flip side every time Inter went forward they looked as if they were going to score. The home side should have when Candreva played a delicious ball to Perisic who unselfishly tried to play it to Icardi. If not for Olivera it would have been curtains, who did well to cut out the pass and deny a goal. Fiorentina had grown into the game since falling two goals behind, with the likes of Eysseric getting on the ball looking to create a comeback.
A new tool to referees is VAR and it was used to adjudicate if Fiorentina were awarded a penalty after Simeone was pushed by Miranda. While it does have its positives, it breaks up the play far too much for simple decisions.
Much improvement was needed for La Viola in the second half.However, Icardi came closest in the second period, and only a smart save from Sportiello denied the striker.
15 minutes in Cristoforo was the first substitution of the game for a possibly injured Marco Benassi, and the Uruguayan made a bright start. With a good forward run he got into the box and played a low cross which was asking for someone to fire home but no Viola attacker was in sight.
Khouma Babacar was next to be summoned by Pioli and replaced Simeone, and came ever so close to pulling one back for the visitors. After a fine interception by Astori high up the pitch, he found Gil Dias who laid it off for Babacar and struck it first time from 25 yards. However, Samir Handanovic pulled off a fine stop to deny him. While it still remained 2-0, La Viola certainly improved in the second half.
As the game entered the final quarter, Inter were very much playing on the counter-attack and really should have sealed the victory. Icardi was sent through but unselfishly played it to Roberto Gagliardini who blazed over. While Fiorentina pushed harder for a goal it was beginning to look like it’d be their downfall. They were guilty of throwing too many players forward therefore leaving many gaps in the defence.
Fiorentina’s best chance of the game fell to Jordan Veretout. The debutant was inches away from getting a goal back. From a corner, it was played back to the edge of the area and the Frenchman absolutely rifled a shot towards goal. Handanovic was absolutely rooted to the spot. He stood and could only watch as it crashed off the post. So unlucky as the shot looked destined for the back of the net.
Minutes later, the game was sealed. Substitute Joao Mario crossed to the far post where Perisic was in acres of space. The Croat dove down to head the ball and left Sportiello with little chance. Nenad Tomovic deserves the assist for some awful positioning, as he was nowhere near his opponent. Despite conceding three goals, Sportiello wasn't having a bad game. The new number one denied Icardi with a fantastic save high to his right shortly after the third goal.
It’s only the first game of the season so let's not get too down about tonight's result. With 6 new faces in the starting line-up, it took Fiorentina a while to get used to playing with each other. It’s going to take time for Pioli to get his message across and get the team to gel to his style, especially the defence who really struggled, and especially Tomovic but that's not exactly surprising. The positives? Eysseric looks good. A creative spark cutting in from the left, looked to find Simeone with some good crosses. Speaking of the Argentine he also had a good debut and the front three of Gil Dias, Eysseric and Simeone looks promising. Also it’s worth noting that Chiesa and Saponara weren't playing and were missed.
Marco Sportiello - 7
Made some good saves along the way, wasn't helped out by his defence. Could have been even worse if it wasn't for his acrobatics.
Nenad Tomovic - 4
Where do I begin with this mess? Was at fault for two goals. Please play Bruno Gaspar, Pioli.
Victor Hugo - 5
Really struggled to deal with Icardi. He looked lost at times, might take him some games to get used to Serie A.
Davide Astori - 5
Looked overawed in the first half but did grow into the game. Positive going forward as well. Also struggled alongside Hugo, a lot of work to be done as they get to know each other's games.
Maxi Olivera - 5
Allowed Candreva and co far too much space, wasn't great going forward either.
Carlos Sanchez - 4
Was lost in the game, Inter’s midfield dominated the Colombian he was very fortunate to play the full 90.
Jordan Veretout - 6
Solid enough debut for the Frenchman. Almost scored an absolute rocket while it was 2-0. Promising debut.
Gil Dias - 6
A constant threat but didn't really have the final ball. An exciting player with his pace. But slightly one dimensional at times. Could be a great player from the bench when Chiesa is back.
Marco Benassi - 6
Was playing out of position to be fair to him needs to play back, came off injured hard to make a real assessment of him because of this.
Valentin Eysseric - 7
Fiorentina’s most creative player. Real excited to see what he can do in the future. Very good debut in difficult circumstances.
Giovanni Simeone - 6
Good debut and had Fiorentina’s best and only chance of the first half. Was an isolated figure up top but a lot more to come from the Argentine.
Sebastian Cristoforo 6: Promising introduction, but was never going to give that attacking threat to really make a difference.
Khouma Babacar 6: Would have been nice to see him play up top with Simeone but he applied himself well and almost scored a long ranger.
Rafik Zekhnini: N/A wasn't on the pitch enough to make an impact.