Fiorentina kept a clean sheet against Napoli on Saturday, but that point may prove Pyrrhic in the end as both Germán Pezzella and Kevin Mirallas went down with injuries late in the match; the Belgian limped off, but the Argentine, seeing that Stefano Pioli was out of subs, limped back on so that his team could finish with eleven men, even if one of them could barely walk. It was a real captain’s display and maybe helped the squad secure a draw.
The other shoe dropped today, though, as we learned that the defender suffered a strain to a collateral knee ligament and will miss at least a month and possibly longer. It’s a tremendous blow to Fiorentina, who rely on Pezzella’s quiet strength at the back, and leaves Pioli with two options: either shift Nikola Milenković into the center with Vitor Hugo and use Vincent Laurini out wide, or insert Federico Ceccherini into the Pezze-shaped hole in the heart of defense. Either will result in a significant downgrade the the Viola rear guard.
Mirallas, meanwhile, has been diagnosed with a calf strain that will probably sideline him for a minimum of three weeks. While he’s not quite as central to Fiorentina’s success, he’s settled in as the top attacking substitute in recent weeks. Maybe this means that Giovanni Simeone, exiled to the bench since Luis Muriel’s signing, will get more chances. It could also be a lifeline to Marko Pjaca, although that’s less likely.
Either way, Fiorentina fans will feel much worse about pushing on for seventh without the injured duo over the next month or so, especially with the big Coppa Italia matches against Atalanta looming. Federico Chiesa should take up the armband, but it’s hard to see who will replace those contributions in the squad.