After a tough-to-watch scoreless draw at Brescia, Fiorentina return home to face Lazio. In their 151 matches since 1931, the Viola are W50 D43 L58, including a mark of W2 D2 L6 over their last 10 meetings. This fixture finished 1-1 last year due to some Pietro Terracciano heroics but was nigh on unwatchable.
The referee for this one is 38-year-old Marco Guida of Torre Annunziata, who’s considered good enough to work Champions League matches now. In 4 Serie A games this season, he’s handed out 23 yellow cards, 3 red cards, and 2 penalties, so he’s not afraid to get involved in the big moments. In the 15 Fiorentina matches he’s refereed, the Viola are a perfectly symmetrical W5 D5 L5; the last Viola match he handled was the 3-1 defeat at Atalanta.
The match will be played on Sunday, 27 October 2019, 7:45 PM GMT/3:45 PM EST, at the Stadio Artemio Franchi in Florence. The weather looks absolutely perfect, with clear skies, a light breeze, and temperatures that’ll require nothing more than a sweater (unless you’re a Tuscan and believe that a ski parka is appropriate weather for a mild autumn evening).
After dropping their first 2 matches of the season, the Viola are undefeated, although a scoreless draw against 15th-place Brescia last week has taken a bit of the luster off. Still, though, a 6-match unbeaten run isn’t a terrible thing, and has in fact propelled this group to 9th place in the table with 12 points, just 1 back of AS Roma and the final Europa League spot.
Manager Vincenzo Montella has pretty much his full squad to choose from (fullback Aleksa Terzić is out with a nose surgery) but still has some questions to answer. After the Rondinelle laid out a pretty solid blueprint for how to slow down the strikerless 3-5-2 formation that’s brought the Viola so much success, the Gigliati look like they made need a center forward; Pedro, Dušan Vlahović, and Kevin-Prince Boateng are all flawed options at the moment, though, and Riccardo Sottil has been outstanding, so it’s likely that the mister will just stand pat.
That should work fine against a Lazio side that plays the sort of high line that the Viola have taken advantage of so well. The pace of Federico Chiesa and Dalbert in behind should provide the Aquile with no end of problems, while Franck Ribery and Gaetano Castrovilli should find more space to operate as well. That inside-left channel will, as ever, be the main area of focus for the hosts, and what happens there will probably determine the outcome one way or another.
Considering that the blue half of Rome sits in 7th place with 12 points (even with Fiorentina but 5 better in the goal difference column), you might think that they’re feeling okay about their chances. However, with just 6 points from their past 5 matches, including draws against Bologna and Atalanta in their last 2 league outings—not to mention a loss at Celtic in the Europa League—Biancocelesti brows are beginning to furrow a bit.
Manager Simone Inzaghi can choose from all his regulars, so expect the usual 3-5-2 shape. He may have to rotate his side a bit, though, as standouts Ciro Immobile, Joaquin Correa, Sergej Milinković-Savić, and Luis Alberto will be on short rest following that defeat at Parkhead, so we could see the likes of Felipe Caicedo or Jony up top.
You know what to expect from Inzaghi’s Lazio by now: compact in defense, clever at overloading the wings with midfielders and strikers drifting around, and lethal in quick transitions. The defense, though, is probably the weak link; it’s looked susceptible to pace at times and has struggled a bit to lock down opponents at set pieces, both of which set up well for the Viola to exploit.
How to watch
TV: You can try BeIn Sports 2, but this looks like one you’ll have to stream. Check the full international television listings here if you don’t believe me.
Online: Here is your list of safe, reliable, and legal streams. If you’re in the US, ESPN+ is showing it; sign up using this link if you don’t have an account yet and Viola Nation will get a little bit of cash (Vox Media has affiliate partnerships. These do not influence editorial content, though Vox Media may earn commissions for products purchased via affiliate links.).
Ted’s Memorial Blind Guess Department
Lazio score a lot of goals, so it’s hard to think this will be another clean sheet for Fiorentina. However, Montella’s 3-5-2 should work pretty well against an opponent that wants to control the game in attack, rather than a more defensively-oriented opponent like Brescia. In fact, this should set up as a very entertaining game for the neutral, as both teams are packed full of technical quality and forward-thinking players. We’ll call it a 3-2 thriller, with Chiesa, Dalbert, and Castrovilli on target for the hosts and Immobile and Caicedo reducing the arrears for the visitors.