Everyone’s very excited for Fiorentina’s upcoming tie against Hellas Verona, but nobody’s more excited than Franck Ribery, who’s finally finished serving his suspension for doing a big stupid. The reintroduction of the Frenchman, though, overshadows the shortfall in midfield, where Gaetano Castrovilli and Erick Pulgar are both absent after picking up yellow card suspensions against Cagliari. That means that Milan Badelj will be the only regular starter available in the engine room.
Marco Benassi is far and away the most frequently-used backup midfielder and will surely take over Castrovilli’s more vertical role, but who will replace Pulgar? Against a Hellas side that sits very deep, denies space through the middle, and generally kicks the bejeezus out of opponents, Vincenzo Montella has a few different options.
Szymon Żurkowski is the most likely candidate. The 22-year-old Pole seems to be Cousin Vinnie’s preferred option behind Benassi, making 2 appearances (spanning all of 10 minutes) on the year. He’s a tireless runner and tough enough to offer plenty of defensive cover, and packs a walloping shot from distance. The problem is that he hasn’t really shown himself to be an incisive passer to this point of his career and isn’t the type to dribble his marker to stress an opposing defense.
The other two options are Bryan Dabo and Sebastian Cristoforo. Montella knows the latter quite well and has even coaxed a couple of decent performances out of him over the years. While the Uruguayan’s ball-winning and physicality could take some of the defensive burden off his mates, his lack of attacking output seems tough to handle against a deep-lying outfit like the Scaligeri. Too, with rumors of interest from Spain, this could be a perfect opportunity to put him in the shop window. Dabo, on the other hand, offers a bit more dynamism and has the strength to mix it up with anyone, but seems to be way outside Montella’s plans thus far, as he has yet to even feature this year. Like Cristoforo, though, this could be a fine chance to set him on display.
Assuming that Vinnie doesn’t throw us all for a loop and call up Marko Hanuljak from the Primavera or push Tòfol Montiel or Valentin Eysseric into a very unusual role, it’s one of these three; each one will bring a very different skillset to proceedings, so Vinnie can mix and match to suit his tactics.
Who should Montella start in midfield against Hellas?
This poll is closed
Someone else I’ll mention in the comments
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