Alban Lafont picked up a minor knock to the ankle in training, so journeyman Pietro Terracciano started between the sticks. Federico Ceccherini got the nod over Vitor Hugo at the back, while Giovanni Simeone dropped to the bench in favor of Gerson.
Simone Inzaghi, on the other hand, sent out his expected eleven, including injury doubt Thomas Strakosha.
Fiorentina opened strongly, pushing Lazio back and calmly passing the ball around the middle of the park, with Edimilson Fernandes particularly impressive in possession. Despite controlling play in a way we’ve never seen under Stefano Pioli’s stewardship, though, neither Federico Chiesa nor Luis Muriel were involved at all.
After the first 20 minutes, Lazio emerged from its shell and began finding space in a nervous Viola rearguard. At 21’, Terracciano made an unbelievable save on a Ciro Immobile blast from 10 yards out, tipping the ball onto the post. However, he was helpless to stop the striker’s brilliant effort 2 minutes later; a cut inside and a perfect curler from the top of the box saw the Italy international notch his 13th goal of the year, although Germán Pezzella made it a bit too easy.
At the half hour mark, Terracciano firmly repelled an angled blast from Sergej Milenković-Savić. A minute later, the Viola bobbled the ball all over the place, culminating in a Nikola Milenković miskick that Terracciano picked up; it wasn’t a backpass because the Serbian defender clearly had no intention to give it to the keeper, but it was plenty embarrassing nonetheless.
5 minutes later, Chiesa went off with what may be an abdominal strain, further hampering a toothless Fiorentina’s chances of a comeback. Terracciano made two more excellent stops on Correa and Immobile, but the real story was that the Viola looked utterly gormless. Misplaced passes, extra touches, idiotic dribbles, and at least three incidents in which players ran into each other. It was, in a word, dire, and the hosts were lucky to only be down a goal at the half; it was the worst half hour of football they’ve played this season.
Pioli brought on Kevin Mirallas for Fernandes at the break, but the visitors came out hungrier with Milenković-Savić twice firing goalwards after the restart, including one from an obvious foul on Muriel that Daniele Orsato ignored.
The hosts continued to play like a Serie C team until the hour mark, when Mirallas punched a volley off-frame. It was a warning shot, though, and the Belgian made it count moments later, muscling past Stefan Radu to slice in a low cross. Muriel met it at the front post and redirected to the back, past a helpless Strakosha, and just like that the hosts had a deeply undeserved draw.
Fiorentina nearly threw it away with a mixup at the back right after that saw Terracciano charge off his line and miss his clearance, but it was some typically sinewy work from Simeone on the other end—turning his man and gutting a 40-yard run down the line before centering—that saw Mirallas whack an easy chance over the bar.
Simeone and Benassi both had chances from crosses by Jordan Veretout and Cristiano Biraghi, respectively, but the game ended with a stunning display of ego from Orsato: whistling the wrong fouls, ignoring the obvious ones, and booking Cholito for nothing.
The draw pretty well ends Fiorentina’s hopes of 7th, as they’re now 7 points adrift with 11 games left and will probably lack Chiesa for a few weeks. It’s a huge letdown for a team tipped to make some noise this year, and Pioli has to bear the blame.
His charges were terrible for most of the day, lacking any urgency for the entire match. That has to be on the mister; while mistakes with the Xs and Os are one thing, a failure to motivate his side for a critical game (especially after the final two matches last year) has to spell an end for him. Without Fede to paper over the cracks, he’s toast.
Terracciano: 8—The only reason Fiorentina kept a point. Impeccable positioning and anticipation, as well as safe hands. We all thought he was a throwaway piece in the Drągowski loan, but he looked every bit the steady, competent veteran. That first stop on Immobile was simply superb.
Ceccherini: 5—Made one incredible run forward, beating 4 defenders to put in a tantalizing cross, but had trouble springing the offside trap and was targeted by Immobile and Correa to their profit.
Milenković: 5—Aimless in possession and nervous when matched against Correa’s trickery. Not a disaster, but neither the heartthrob from last year. Not by a long shot.
Pezzella: 5.5—Got the worst of his battle with Immobile. Still looks a step slow, a thought behind, a day late, a dollar short.
Biraghi: 7—Really good. Played in some excellent crosses and overlapped tirelessly, as we’ve come to expect. Lost Marušić a couple times, but was certainly a net positive.
Benassi: 3.5—Marco haters have plenty of ammunition now. Bad passes, glacial passing, defensive lapses, and general catastrophe. Skied his only shot. Ugh.
Fernandes: 5—Dominated the first 20 minutes by dropping in and keeping his passing simple and quick. Then he started trying to do too much and the wheels came off in a familiarly Edi fashion.
Veretout: 4.5—Everyone is prone to games where things just don’t go right, and Jordan suffered one of those. Misses next week’s clash against Cagliari after a stupid yellow card.
Chiesa: 4—Never got involved, but we’re way more worried for his health after he walked off in tears. Get well soon and we love you.
Muriel: 7—Despite vanishing for stretches, the forward got his goal and sporadically troubled the Bianocelesti with his darts in behind and slippery movement on the wing.
Gerson: 4—Remains hilariously adept at winning free kicks, but ran himself into dead ends time and again. Adds almost nothing defensively, so when his attacking output vanishes, he’s a liability.
Simeone: 7—Where’s this guy been? Relentlessly charged into space and harried Lazio’s defense and midfield like a man possessed. Showed pace, strength, and surprising skill with the ball at his feet. This is the prince that was promised.
Mirallas: 6.5—Constantly attacked Radu and looked threatening throughout. Earned his assist with a lovely bit of skill before the cross , but couldn’t keep his composure when he could have hammered home the winner.
Vitor Hugo: 5—Remains prone to inexplicably bad plays; this time it was a comically missed tackle. Clearly suffering from a serious case of the yips.