With just two matches left in this Serie A season, Fiorentina travel to Genoa to face, well, Genoa in a match that will see Giovanni Simeone return to his old stomping grounds in search of three points that will keep his team mathematically in the hunt for European qualification.
Over their last 10 meetings in Serie A, Fiorentina are W3 D6 L1 against Genoa, scoring 16 goals and conceding 12. There’ve also been 6 red cards issued in those last ten matches, so keep an eye on that. When these two met earlier this year in Florence, it finished goalless; in their last meeting in Genoa, the Grifoni eked out a 1-0 win in a rain-delayed match full of terrible choices. Overall, these sides have played each other 100 times, with the Viola compiling a record of W44 D35 L21.
The referee for this one is Gianluca Manganiello. In 15 Serie A matches this season, he’s handed out 44 yellow cards, 6 red cards, and 6 penalties. This will be the first time he’s ever taken charge of a Viola game.
The match will be played on Sunday, 6 May 2018, at 2PM GST/9 AM EST at the Stadio Luigi Ferraris.
Sitting in 11th place with 41 points, Genoa are pretty much the definition of midtable. They won’t qualify for any European tournaments next year, and neither will they be relegated. With 7 points from their past 5 matches, it seems that they may already be thinking about beaches and coconuts full of rum and tiny umbrellas.
Manager Davide Ballardini, however, will want to get the best out of his charges to ensure that he’ll be back with them next season. He’ll have to do it without centerbacks Armando Izzo (calf), Loïck Landre (suspension), and Santiago Gentiletti (suspension), as well as rightback Pedro Perreira (ankle) and midfielder Diego Laxalt (hamstring). He will, however, be able to call on the services of ex-Viola players Giuseppe Rossi and Aleandro Rosi, the former of whom will likely feature from the bench.
Ballardini favors a 3-5-2 with three big, powerful centerbacks who repel any crosses into the box and threaten on the other end from set pieces. The midfield tends to be more functional and hardworking than creative, although the likes of Miguel Veloso can switch play neatly to jumpstart the attack. Up top, he can choose from a number of crafty little strikers who are happy to drift around and work the channels: Gianluca Lapadula and and Adel Taarabt are my guesses to start, but any of those two, Rossi, Goran Pandev, or Andrey Galabinov could end up starting.
Some dropped points late in the season means that the Viola are unlikely to qualify for Europe. Their 54 points are good for 9th place, even with Sampdoria (who hold the tiebreaker over them) and 4 behind Atalanta, who sit in the final Europa place. While it would take a miracle for the Gigliati to leapfrog those two sides, they’re mathematically still in the race, so you know they’ll be all geed up and ready to go.
Manager Stefano Pioli is missing centerback Vitor Hugo (hamstring), so Nikola Milenković will partner Germán Pezzella in the heart of the defense, with Vincent Laurini likely to get the nod over Bruno Gaspar at rightback. The rest of the XI should be the names we’ve come to know and love, with Simeone in particular in the spotlight—following his first hat trick in purple, he’s facing his old team again.
The key players in this one are Riccardo Saponara, Cristiano Biraghi, and Federico Chiesa. The former will drift inside and overload the midfield. Biraghi will have to cope with the pace of Darko Lazović while also providing the width in attack on the left, which means he’s in for a long day of non-stop running. Chiesa will go up against the cumbersome duo of Francesco Migliore and Davide Biraschi and should be able to beat either or both at any given moment off the dribble. If the Viola win these battles, they’re almost certainly going to win the match.
How to watch
TV: You can check the listings here, but looks like this is one we’ll be watching online.
Online: Here is your list of safe, reliable, and legal streams.
Ted’s Memorial Blind Guess Department
Given the fiery nature of this fixture over the past five years, it seems likely that we’ll see the referee involved somehow. Given the matchup, I’ll take Federico Chiesa to win an early penalty—converted by Jordan Veretout, of course—and then get a defender sent off after bursting past him on the break, but not before the Grifoni have struck through Lapadula on the counter, setting the stage for Cholito to smash home a late goal to win all 3 points against his old side.