After two ugly results at the end of December, Fiorentina will look to shake of the malaise that typified 2018 in their first competitive fixture of the new year tomorrow, against Torino. The superstitious amongst you will be pleased to know that history is very much on la Viola’s side in this one, with just two of the previous ten Coppa Italia meetings between the two sides going the way of il Toro.
Most recently the teams met at the end of October, splitting the points as a Marco Benassi goal was counteracted by an unfortunate own goal off the back of Alban Lafont.
Kick Off at the Stadio Olimpica Grande Torino is at 14:00 GMT/19:00 EST,
It’s been business as usual for everyone’s favourite Turin-based club so far. I granata sit 9th in Serie A, occupying one of the midtable spots they’ve made their home for the past half a decade. Torino do come into the game in relatively good form though, having taken a point from Lazio, and comfortably dispatched Empoli in their last two games.
Torino’s biggest downfall this season has been their over-reliance on Andrea Belotti in front of goal. Other than Belotti (7 goals, four of them penalties, in 19 games) just four Torino players have more than one goal to their name. That’s not to say there aren’t other goal threats in the team, Iago Falque may not be producing the form he has over the last two years but is still a dangerous player, and Daniele Baselli can create chances, but all in all this Toro team isn’t one that’s likely to cause a whole lot of worry for Pioli’s staff.
Defensively though Torino look better than ever. Last year’s above-average defence has been tightened up further. The addition of Armando Izzo and a shift to three at the back both seem to have been shrewd moves by boss Walter Mazzari, and his side have been in good defensive form, allowing just one goal a game so far in Serie A.
Stefano Pioli has promised to field his best XI for the fixture, which makes sense given that the league is pretty much a lost cause for la Viola this year. We’re likely to see new signing Luis Muriel make his competitive debut, either on the left flank of the trident Pioli employs or as an alternative to misfiring striker Giovanni Simeone.
Muriel’s arrival seemed to spell the end for Marko Pjaca’s stay in Florence, with Juventus wanting to recall the player so that they could ship him to Premier League strugglers Fulham. However Fiorentina have been uwilling to end the player’s loan spell early, and we may see him given another chance to fight for his spot in the team if Muriel is utilised through the middle.
How to Watch
For those of you in America espn+ has coverage of the game. Sadly, in the UK coverage is only available through BT extra. If like me, the idea of listening to English commentators cover Italian football gives you heart palpitations, might I recommend turning the volume down and instead listening to Miles Davis’ seminal album Bitches Brew. It’s about the length of a game of football, and will provide the exact same amount insight into the game you’re watching as the BT commentary.
For anyone located elsewhere around the globe, full listings can be found here.
Ted’s Memorial Blind Guess Department
Both Fiorentina and Torino’s seasons so far have been characterised by solid defensive play and a stagnant offense. This is not a recipe for open and free-flowing football, and it’s hard to see tomorrow’s game being filled with goals. Whilst my heart wants to back Fiorentina, my head tells me that the home team should edge this one, we’ll call it a 1-0 loss, with the goal coming from subpar striker and superb tap dancer Simone Zaza off the bench.