While the men’s side of Fiorentina may be on break right now, there’s still Viola football being played. The women’s side crushed Ravenna 4-0 over the weekend, but we’re going to talk about the Primavera right now. The kids are currently competing in the Viareggio Cup, which is one of the most prestigious youth tournaments in the world. Yesterday, they spanked Juventus 4-1 to reach the final against Inter Milan. It’s a rematch of the 2011 final, which the Nerazzurri won, but this one could go very differently.
That match against Juventus was a cracker if you’re of the Florentine persuasion. Midfielders Erald Lakti and Abdou Diakhate each netted in the opening quarter hour to put the Gigliati in control, but the Old Lady applied some pressure thereafter, although they were unable to crack a rock-solid Michele Cerofolini between the posts. Indeed, it could have been a bigger advantage for the good guys, as a couple of incidents in the box could (and perhaps should) have been given as penalties. Naturally, Juve pulled one back through a Giuseppe Montaperto blast from well outside the box just after halftime. However, Gabriele Gori pounced on a defensive error moments later to restore the 2-goal lead with a cool finish, and captain Dikhate finished his brace after scuffing home a late cross just before the final whistle and just after missing a penalty. Have a look at the highlights:
Previously, Fiorentina had won its group behind victories over Ascoli and Pontedera and a draw against Greek side PAS Giannina, setting up victories over Empoli and Sassuolo before this showdown with Juve. On the other semifinal, Inter beat Parma to get here.
The Viola have a proud history in this tournament, having reached the final 16 times and won the whole thing on 8 occasions, although not since 1992 have they lifted the trophy. For those keeping track at home, that puts them 3rd in wins (behind Juve and AC Milan) and tied for 1st in appearances in the final (with the Rossoneri).
This year’s edition of the team has moved away from the 4-3-3 favored by former boss Federico Guidi, who’s now in charge of the Azzurri U20 team. New manager Emiliano Bigica has instead installed a shape that’s solid in defense and fluid in attack; while striker Gabriele Gori generally lurks up top and offers a big, physical reference point, 3 of Riccardo Sottil, Josip Maganjić, Erald Lakti, and Marco Meli interchange around him, swapping roles on the wings, dropping into midfield, or even pushing all the way up to work as a spare center forward.
The attackers are the stars in this side. Gori’s 14 goals and 5 assists in 22 appearances lead the way, with Sottil chipping in 9 and 6. The midfield can look a bit fragile at times as Diakhate loves to motor forward, often leaving Vitja Valenčič stranded in the middle. However, Bigica mostly has this side very well-drilled, particularly in defense, and the presence of Cerofolini—one of the more promising teenage custodians in Italy, although also one whose excellence is a bit better concealed than that of, say, Gianluigi Donnarumma—means that even when the defense slips up, opponents still have some work to do.
The Viola are 4th in their league right now, just 4 points behind Inter, who sit 2nd. What we’re saying is that this should be a quality match for the neutral and an exciting one for Fiorentina fans. The final is tomorrow (that’s Wednesday 28 March 2018) at 2 PM GMT/9 AM EST.