Fiorentina gets no time to recover from a shocking loss at home against Lecce in the league, because it’s time for the Coppa Italia tie against Cittadella. These two have only met once competitively, and that in 2011, when the Viola ground out a 2-1 win behind Alberto Gilardino and Alessio Cerci getting the goals (along with Samuele di Carmine, of course).
The referee for this one is 35-year-old Ivano Pezzuto of Lecce. He’s only ever worked 3 Serie A matches, spending the majority of his time in Serie B. He’s never worked a Fiorentina game, so I have no clue what to expect from him.
The match will be played on Tuesday, 3 December 2019, at 8:00 PM GMT/3:00 PM EST at the Stadio Artemio Franchi. The forecast calls for an absolutely perfect autumn day, with plenty of cloud cover, no rain, and barely any breeze. It’s going to be perfect.
This is a team that’s re-entering crisis mode. Now down to 13th in Serie A with 16 points, they’ve taken just 4 points from their past 5 matches (including losses to newly-promoted sides Hellas Verona and Lecce) and haven’t shown any signs of getting right. The fans are starting to get uneasy, and given the result of the previous Coppa fixture—a 3-1 win over Serie C outfit Monza which required a Dušan Vlahović brace in the last 10 minutes spare the blushes.
Manager Vincenzo Montella is missing perhaps his three best players in RW Federico Chiesa (leg), LW Franck Ribery (ankle), and CB Germán Pezzella (face). Given that his team played a very physical match on Saturday, he may rotate the squad heavily. Kevin-Prince Boateng, Lorenzo Venuti, and Luca Ranieri are all likely to start, while Lorenzo Venuti, Pedro, Rachid Ghezzal, and Marco Benassi could all start as well. The real question, though, is if Montella will keep his 3-5-2 in place without the forwards who pushed him to adopt the shape. If he swaps things up, a 4-3-3 is the likeliest outcome.
As is frequently the case with teams that play narrow and deep, one of the best ways to stress this defense is to move the ball quickly to the wings, so Milan Badelj should be key in keeping the pressure up. Combining the wing threat with some dribbling through the middle (let’s hope Gaetano Castrovilli’s ready on short rest) should result in a lot of set piece opportunities as well.
The Veneto-based outfit could well end up having its best season ever. Citta, which hasn’t ever played in Serie A, sits in second place in Serie B with 22 points (along with 4 other clubs chasing Benevento) and are on a 6-match unbeaten streak, which could catapult them to their first-ever promotion to the first tier. After joining the Coppa Italia in the second round, they’ve beaten Padova 3-0 and then knocked Carpi out on spot kicks in a wild one that featured 6 goals, a red card, a penalty save, and general mayhem.
Manager Roberto Venturato, who’s been in charge since 2015, favors a 4-3-1-2 formation. The dangerman is striker Davide Diaw, who’s got 6 goals and 2 assists across all competitions this year. This team wins in Serie B through toughness and defensive organization; they’ve conceded just 14 goals in 14 games, so the primary brief is to present a significant obstacle to opponents. They’ve only scored 14, though, so they don’t offer much threat beyond Diaw right now.
As you’d expect from a Serie B club playing at the Franchi, Cittadella are going to play very deep, looking to soak up pressure and then occasionally break with the front two. They’ll likely cede the midfield zone entirely and thump the ball long, hoping for a slip or a foul that will give them a chance from a set piece. The best way to attack them is probably down the wings, which means that crossing for a striker in the middle could be a route forward; enter Pedro and KPB.
How to watch
TV: Doesn’t look likely, but check the full international television listings here.
Online: Here is your list of safe, reliable, and legal streams.
Ted’s Memorial Blind Guess Department
Goddammit, this is going to be a struggle, isn’t it? Fiorentina are terrible right now. Cittadella are good. More than that, though, Citta know who they are and the Gigliati have absolutely no identity. That said, Cittadella have a miserably bad attack, so at least the Viola can hope that they’ll avoid a track meet. Honestly, I’m going to say a 1-0 win to Fiorentina, with a bunch of truly unwatchable soccer briefly rescued by a long-range strike from Kevin-Prince Boateng.