It’s far too soon to draw any conclusions about the direction of this season, but between last week’s rough start of the Serie A year against Internazionale and a less than convincing pre season, Fiorentina needs to show signs of life sooner rather than later.
This week’s friendly against Real Madrid, while a loss, was encouraging - if anything Fiorentina started the match outplaying the Spanish giants, and the first half only ended tied because Cristiano Ronaldo is an unstoppable force of nature.
The team still has plenty of work to do, but now that Pioli is more familiar with what he has available, the first match of the year at home would be a nice time to start getting results.
The match will be played on Sunday, 27 August 2017, at 7:45 PM GMT/2:45 PM EST, at the Stadio Artemio Franchi in Florence, Italy.
Stefano Pioli goes into this week with more options than he had against Inter, although he is likely to stick with his preferred 4-2-3-1. Perhaps the most important addition is Milan Badelj, back from injury. The now veteran Croatian midfielder, after having one foot out of the door for two years now, is suddenly perhaps the most important player returning from the previous cycle, especially considering the poor start from Carlos Sanchez and Marco Benassi, and as a result will likely start alongside Jordan Veretout, who has probably shown the most promise in the new look Viola midfield.
Federico Chiesa is back from suspension, and will likely play on the wing behind Giovanni Simeone, along with some sort of combination of Valentin Eysseric, Ianis Hagi, Gil Dias, and/or Marco Benassi, who the club seems to insist on converting into a #10 for reasons which escape me. Cholito meanwhile, will continue to look for his first goal as a Fiorentina player; his performance so far suggests this will come sooner rather than later.
In the defense, German Pezzella is likely to get his official debut alongside Davide Astori, with the addition of Cristiano Briaghi offering more of an attacking focus on the left. On the right side, both Bruno Gaspar and Nenad Tomovic remain options, although the poor start of the year for the Fiorentina mainstay means it may be a good time to test out the newer option.
Marco Giampaolo’s Sampdoria got off to a winning start, albeit barely, scrapping by Benevento 2-1 at home. Veteran striker Fabio Quagliarella scored a brace in that match, already linking up with new midfield signing and former Fiorentina link Gaston Ramirez.
Also available up front is Patrik Schick, recovering from a health scare. He has been linked with most Italian giants this summer but remains in Genoa at least for now. Unavailable however are former Fiorentina goalkeeper Emiliano Viviano and fullback Dodo, both out with injuries.
Sampdoria have strong midfield options this year; in addition to Ramirez, options include Filip Duricic, Dennis Praet, Edgar Barreto, and Ricky Alvarez. Their defense is thinner, although the likely starting CB pairing of Vasco Regini and Matias Silvestre is competent and experienced.
Giampaolo favors a 4-3-1-2 that takes advantage of I Blucerchiati’s midfield depth; like Pioli he has a willingness for positive, open football that will likely lead to a match decided on the attacking side.
Fiorentina (4-2-3-1): Sportiello; Gaspar, Pezzella, Astori, Biraghi; Badelj, Veretout; Chiesa, Benassi, Eysseric; Simeone
Sampdoria (4-3-1-2): Puggioni; Sala, Silvestre, Regini, Pavlovic; Barreto, Torreira, Praet; Ramirez; Quagliarella, Caprari
How to watch
TV: It’s not gonna happen.
Online: Check here for a list of legal, high quality options. For those of us in the U.S. or Canada, beIN Sports Connect and fuboTV are the best options. As always, do not post illegal streams here. You can follow the match along with us on twitter and in the comments section of the match thread.
Ted’s Memorial Blind Guess Department
Sampdoria is dangerous and should be respected, but is also the kind of mid table club we need to be able to get results against, especially at home. Expect an open match; I think Fiorentina will win 2-1, with plenty of scares on both sides and Simeone to get his debut Viola goal.