Watching Fiorentina shrink from what looked like a juggernaut early this year to wind up seeming more like a tugboat hasn’t been a whole lot of fun. More than the results—which are pretty much a dreary run of 1-1s, with a visit from Juventus coming up that we’d much rather not think about thank you very much—it’s been the product on the field that’s disappointed. The defense has mostly been solid but there hasn’t been anything resembling a functional attack, a problem that falls evenly on the midfield and the forwards. Stefano Pioli, meanwhile, has shown no sign of unlocking a solution, so instead we trudge into winter with one of the least-inspiring Viola sides in recent memory.
All that being said, there are still plenty of things to be thankful for if you’re a Viola fan. Here are my top ____. This is by no means an exhaustive list, but a decent jumping off point.
1. Federico Chiesa.
It’s become rather trendy of late to call out every fault that the 21-year-old shows for both club and country. Yes, sometimes he holds the ball too long. Yes, sometimes he shoots when he should pass and vice versa. Yes, sometimes he gets frustrated at his teammates when the fault sure looks like it lies with him. Yes, he’s not Lionel Messi or Kylian Mbappe.
But holy crow, yall, he’s a 21-year-old superstar! Fiorentina haven’t had a player be this good and this young since, what, the halcyon days of Stevan Jovetić? Even on his bad days, Chiesa is still likely to do something like this Argentina international Federico Fazio.
Federico Chiesa.#FiorentinaRoma pic.twitter.com/u5zO1pI3Rx— Valerio Nicastro (@valerionicastro) November 3, 2018
That’s the sort of outrageous quality that all but a handful of players would chop off a pinky for, and here’s this 21-year-old nonchalantly nutmegging one of the better defenders in Serie A before scorching everyone down the wing. If you can’t enjoy that, then you’re dead inside and I bet your house smells like old cabbage.
2. Some of the world’s most iconic shirts in one of its most iconic cities.
Pretty much every club in the world wears red, blue, or white in some combination. Yes, the stripes or hoops or whatever can be done nicely, but nobody’s going to see a Fiorentina shirt and mistake it for anything else (sorry, Orlando City SC). There’s not another club on earth that has an entire color that’s theirs and theirs alone. And heck, watching Fiorentina means that you’re watching Florence, which is about as perfect a city as exists in the world. With all due respect to rainy Tuesday evenings, you don’t get that at Stoke City.
3. At least this is Serie A, not Serie C2.
Hey, remember when the Cecchi Goris completely bankrupted Fiorentina, leading to 30,000 people rioting in the streets? Remember when this club couldn’t use its name or badge? Remember when going to see Fiorentina meant going to a match in the 4th tier of Italian soccer? This, right here, is a lot better than that.
4. We could finally see the club start building its new stadium soon.
We totally wrote about this, and it’s totally not going to end up like this.
5. There is so much room for hope.
Even as this side shows all the attacking spirit of a tortoise with crippling anxiety, it’s not like the future is utterly bleak. Chiesa, Giovanni Simeone (current form aside), and Nikola Milenković are all serious talents who are performing well in Serie A, and look at the players who haven’t quite broken through yet: Dušan Vlahović, Riccardo Sottil, David Hancko, Martin Graiciar, Gabriele Gori, Luca Ranieri, Rafik Zekhnini, Petko Hristov, Tòfol Montiel...
Yeah, the future looks pretty bright, actually.
6. We’re not Juve.
I shouldn’t have to explain this one, but oh my goodness is it great to not be a fan of that numpty team.
Yeah, I know it’s cheesy. But holy hell is it good to have everyone here to talk, joke, and generally just be with. Thank you to everyone here. You’re all the damn best and I wouldn’t trade you for anything in the world.