The international break is the enemy of soccer fans everywhere. Not only does it take our teams away from us for two weeks, but sometimes it doesn’t return the players in the same condition in which they departed. Federico Chiesa, for example, got the call for Italy in a clash against Greece, knowing that a win would see the Azzurri qualify for the Euros. Instead of glorying with his mates in his nation’s eventual 2-0 win, though, he was sent to the dressing room early with an injury unknown severity to his right hip.
Given that Fede is probably Fiorentina’s best player, losing him for any stretch of time is a huge blow for Vincenzo Montella. According to the medical report, though, the 21-year-old avoided any structural damage and is dealing with a pretty serious strain. Again, this is way less than optimal, but he shouldn’t miss more than, at the absolute longest, a couple of weeks. The most likely scenario is that he’s unavailable at Brescia on Monday but returns the following week for the clash with Lazio.
What that means for the rest of the team remains to be seen, as Montella has some tricky choices to make in replacing the number 25 and picking which of his forwards will work next to Franck Ribery, especially as each of the available players bring very different attributes to the table.
Kevin-Prince Boateng’s hold-up play, physical strength, and experience are an option, but Dušan Vlahović offers more threat in behind. Pedro just scored for Brazil’s U23s; this could be the perfect moment to introduce the talented youngster. Rachid Ghezzal seems to have earned Montella’s trust, judging by his two late appearances off the bench, and could offer something similar to Chiesa. Riccardo Sottil, while still rough around the edges, offers the pace and dribbling that Fede adds to the mix more than any of the previous options.
As you can see, Cousin Vinnie’s got some tough choices in the week ahead. While Brescia aren’t the most imposing of opponents, they boast the 7th-best defensive record in Serie A this year and enough firepower in attack to cause some problems. To take 3 points on the road and keep their win streak alive, the Viola can ill afford to lose a player of Chiesa’s quality, even with such a diverse group of replacements. The only positives are that it’ll be interesting to see how Montella adapts to his star’s absence, and that we may get to see one of the ballyhooed young attackers on the roster play significant minutes. Even if that short-term solution works, though, let’s all hope that Chiesa makes a speedy recovery.