Calcio is back, everyone, so let’s all take a deep breath and dive back in for Fiorentina’s match against Cagliari. This will be the 79th meeting between the sides since 1964 (which is as far back as Transfermarkt keeps records); the Viola hold a W34 D21 L23 edge, with a gaudy +26 goal difference. Over their past 10 clashes in Serie A, however, it’s a bit more even: Fiorentina are W5 D1 L4, including a sickening 0-1 defeat in this fixture last year that effectively killed any Europa League aspirations the side had.
The referee for this one is Piero Giacomelli of Trieste. In 5 league matches this year, he’s handed out 14 yellow cards and 1 red card. In his Serie A career, he’s averaged about 4 yellow cards per match, as well as 0.23 red cards and 0.28 penalties. He’s handled 9 Fiorentina games, resulting in a W4 D2 L3 record. The most recent of those was the 2-1 loss at Chievo Verona last year.
The match will be played on Sunday, 21 October 2018, at 4:00 PM/12:00 PM EST, at the Stadio Artemio Franchi in Florence. The forecast is a clear day that could be rather warm, but there’s a chance that a cool front could blow in, lowering temperatures and bringing a bit of breeze. Expect a pre-match ceremony for Davide Astori involving both teams, too; he captained Cagliari for years before coming to Firenze.
Serie A’s most uneven team is ready to go again; as you’ve probably heard, Fiorentina has yet to drop points at the Franchi, but has managed just one away from those friendly confines. The resulting form has pushed them to 7th place (exactly where Andrea Della Valle was targeting, so hooray?) with 13 points, even with Sassuolo and Parma but well ahead with an impressive +8 goal difference. Over their last 5 league matches, they’re W2 D1 L2.
Manager Stefano Pioli will have to do without midfielder Christian Nørgaard (knee), who injured himself on international duty with Denmark and looks to miss a while, and winger Kevin Mirallas (ankle). That doesn’t impact the mister’s usual XI, though, and that’s probably who he’ll trot out there. He’ll want to get an early goal against the Sardinians to force them forward, as they’ll certainly sit deep and try to soak up pressure before attacking through set pieces and quick counters. That means we should be treated to another furious beginning from the Viola, but they’ll probably slow as the half wears on and allow the visitors more of the ball, as has been the pattern thus far this year.
The key men here could well be Cristiano Biraghi and Marco Benassi. The former (who’s fresh off scoring a dramatic debut winner for Italy)should have even more freedom than usual to bomb down the left due to Chievo’s very narrow formation, and Benassi could find room to motor into on the right for the same reason. Jordan Veretout’s ability to dictate play (and keep his head, as he was sent off for some shocking behavior in this fixture last year) will also be crucial. And of course Pioli will hope that Federico Chiesa can do something magical to win the match, as per usual.
Sitting in 13th with 9 points from 8 matches, the Sardinians have been a bit slow to start, but have been finding their feet of late, managing a record of W1 D2 L2 from their last 5, including impressive draws at AC Milan and Sampdoria in that stretch. Considering that this outfit spent much of last year scrapping against relegation, they’ll be quite pleased with the results.
A lot of the credit has to go to manager Rolando Maran, who was masterful in keeping Chievo up last year. He’s brought the same 4-3-1-2 formation to the Rossoblu that he used in Verona, along with a similar set of tactics. That means his team sits deep and frustrates any attempt to break them down by using physical play at the back and through the middle. The attacking thrust usually comes from set pieces or from quick counterattacks.
The notable members of the squad are all-action midfielder and captain Nicolò Barella, who impressed in his first action for the Azzurri on this break; target man Leonardo Pavoletti, who leads the team with 3 goals so far; ageless rightback Dario Srna, whose energy and set piece delivery are critical; and the duo of João Pedro and Lucas Castro, who will pull the strings in attack.
How to watch
TV: Doubtful, as everyone who shows calcio will probably have the Milan derby on, but check here for your full listings.
Online: Here are your safe, reliable, and legal streams.
Ted’s Memorial Blind Guess Department
Maran knows how to frustrate Fiorentina (see that loss against Chievo mentioned in the intro), and he’ll do more of the same. Expect a rugged, grinding match that features lots of fouls and a rather disjointed flow, as that’s the Cagliari tactician’s specialty. However, Fiorentina should have enough quality to see them continue their flawless home form: Chiesa will be running at 34-year-old Simone Padoin, which certainly looks like a mismatch, and the Viola have winnable matchups all over. Let’s call it an ugly 2-0 win for the hosts, with a slaloming strike from Chiesa and a Veretout penalty settling things.