Our purple heroes resume action against the only team in Turin for a rare Saturday match. Over their last 150 matches, these two have a nearly symmetrical record: Fiorentina are W50 D51 L49, with a +10 goal difference. If you just look at the last 10 matchups in the league, though, it’s been a bit less mathematically impressive, with a return of W3 D5 L2. In this fixture last year, the Gigliati triumphed 1-2 behind a brilliant Jordan Veretout solo effort and a Cyril Théréau penalty.
The referee for this one is Michael Fabbri of Ravenna. In 4 Serie A matches this year, he’s handed out 16 yellow cards and 2 penalties, which is about in line with the averages he’s accumulated in 58 games in the top flight. Under his watch, the Viola have managed a record of W4 D1 L2, including the 0-1 at Napoli earlier this year in which he let Kalidou Koulibaly get away with some shockingly dirty play.
The match will be played on Saturday, 27 October 2018, at 6:30 PM GMT/2:30 PM EST, at the Stadio Olimpico in Turin, Italy. The forecast warns that this will probably be a sodden affair with the rain bucketing down for days prior, so expect a pretty miserable pitch.
Currently sitting in 9th place with 13 points (just one behind their opponents) and a goal difference of 0, it’s been rather as expected for the Granata: not quite a Europa League caliber team, but good enough to hope nonetheless. Over their past 5 matches, they’re W2 D2 L1, indicating a team that’s starting to find its best form.
Manager Walter Mazzarri has put together a team that’s fluid up front, switching between a 3-5-2 and a 3-4-3. There’s an absurd amount of quality in the attack, spearheaded by Andrea Belotti with the like of Iago Falque, Simone Zaza, and young guns Alex Berenguer and Vittorio Parigini. The midfield is also chock-full of quality, with Daniele Baselli now joined by Soualiho Meïté and Tomás Rincón, who both bring composure and physicality to the proceedings. The weakest unit is probably the defense, where the excellent Nicolas N’Koulou is frequently outgunned, but the steady presence of Salvatore Sirigu helps as well.
Mazzarri will probably want to take the game to Fiorentina, given the Viola’s recent struggles in creating goals, and apply lots of pressure to the visitors’ defense. That should leave plenty of space for Federico Chiesa and company to exploit, but Torino should be happy for this one to become a wide open affair decided by whichever team can find a more reliable finisher. Expect a really physical battle in midfield, too, as Rincón and Meïté are both strong, aggressive, and unafraid to dish out some punishment. That means we could see a lot of balls over the top, so the defense will want to be careful not to leave too much space in behind.
Despite only managing a single point away from home, the Viola are somehow still in 6th despite the 7 points from their past 5 matches: this team hasn’t scored a goal of theirwith 14 points and a +8 goal difference. It hasn’t exactly been smooth sailing of late, though, despite 7 points from the last 5 matches, because the attack is badly stalled. In fact, Fiorentina haven’t scored a goal in open play of their own (so no Milan Skriniar own goal against Inter Milan) since Chiesa hit one against SPAL just before the hour mark. For those keeping track, that’s 394 straight minutes, which is, um, not great.
Manager Stefano Pioli is probably acutely aware of this and we’ve heard rumors that he may shake things up a bit. Marco Benassi should return to midfield, but Edimilson Fernandes may stick around after a good showing against Cagliari at the expense of Gerson, while Bryan Dabo could see some minutes too. The real question, though, is up top, where we’ve heard rumors that Marko Pjaca could drop to the bench in favor of Kevin Mirallas, and that even Théréau could get a run in as Pioli tries to goose a misfiring Giovanni Simeone.
Expect the usual 3-4-3/4-3-3 hybrid formation. Given the hosts’ defensive shortcomings, Pioli will probably sit deep in order to give his forwards room to break into; Chiesa against Armando Izzo in space, for example, is definitely a matchup the Tuscans will want. The trick will be not sitting too deep, as Belotti is a serious threat from crosses and Torino has the quality to provide him service. I’d expect to see a real effort to spring the press in Torino’s midfield and try to set Cholito and Chiesa away from there, although the sopping pitch could lead to a match that’s mostly just two teams hoofing the ball back and forth down the pitch, which means that Dušan Vlahović’s height could come in handy as well.
How to watch
TV: RAI and Eleven Sports are your best bets, but check here for the full international television listings.
Online: Here are your safe, reliable, and legal streaming options.
Ted’s Memorial Blind Guess Department
In a match that could very well come down to which defense slips first in the wet conditions, Fiorentina should like their odds, as their defense is better and they’ve got the quality going forward to beat a man. That said, with the ball squirting all over the place, there’ll probably be plenty of turnover ball and plenty of quick attacks, leading to a good game for the neutral. I’ll call it as a 1-2 win for the Viola, with Chiesa and (finally) Cholito earning the 3 points and with a Baselli drive providing a consolation for the hosts.