We return to Fiorentina football after another agonizing international break with the boys in purple hosting Torino. In their 153 meetings since 1931, they’ve compiled a breathtakingly symmetrical record of W51 D52 L50 with a +10 goal difference against the Granata. In their last 10 league meetings, the Viola are W3 D5 L2, although they did manage a 0-2 win in the Coppa Italia last time they met.
The referee for this one is 36-year-old Fabrizio Pasqua of Tivoli. In 15 Serie A matches this year, he’s handed out 53 yellow cards, 2 red cards, and 2 penalties, which lines up nicely with his career stats at this level. He’s handled 3 Fiorentina matches in his career, resulting in a win, a loss, and a draw; last we saw him was earlier this year in the 1-1 draw at Frosinone.
The match will be played on Sunday, 31 March 2019, at 1:00 PM GMT/9:00 AM EST, at the Stadio Artemio Franchi in Florence. The forecast calls for a sunny and warmish spring day, the type that’s perfect for sitting in the stands and watching a match, even if the teams aren’t a lot of fun.
There are no two ways around it: it’s been rather grim for the Tuscans of late. A string of miserable results has seen them drop well out of contention for 7th place and the final Europa League spot, leading to widespread expectation that season’s end will see a coaching change (hello, Eusebio di Francesco?). With just 1 win in their last 7 league matches, they’ve slumped firmly into the midtable 37 points, good for just 10th, and stew 8 points behind Lazio in the final European place.
Lame-duck manager Stefano Pioli will have to plan around the absence of star RW Federico Chiesa (groin) as well as CB Germán Pezzella (suspension) and CM Edimilson Fernandes (leg). Giovanni Simeone should get a start up top along with Luis Muriel and Gerson or Kevin Mirallas. Vitor Hugo might make his return to replace Pezze, while Gerson or Christian Nørgaard (but probably not Bryan Dabo, because screw you, that’s why) will slot into the midfield. We could see a return to the 3-5-2 that has been nothing short of disastrous for the Viola in this one, but safer money is on the usual 4-3-3.
And, as usual, expect Pioli’s squad to charge around like maniacs, sticking as tight as possible to their opposite numbers, pressuring high, and hitting long balls over the top in the hopes of springing Muriel or Simeone in lieu of actually passing the ball along the carpet. Expect the midfield to be outmuscled for the third time this year by the powerful duo of Tomás Rincón and Soualiho Meïté. That means that Jordan Veretout and company are less likely than usual to provide decent passes forward for the strikers, which could mean we’ll be treated to another ugly, disjointed game.
Il Toro is enjoying a decent bounceback year after last season’s disappointment saw it drop out of the Europa League race earlier than fans would have liked. Well poised for a late assault on the European places, they sit in 7th place with 44 points, just one behind Lazio and continental football. With 10 points from their last 5 league outings, they’ll be feeling confident even though lowly Bologna handed them a loss last time out to snuff out a 7-game unbeaten streak.
Manager Walter Mazzarri will have to make do without the suspended duo of CB Nicolas Nkoulou and LM Ola Ainu, which means that Emiliano Moretti and Cristian Ansaldi should step into the 3-5-2 favored by Fiorentina youth product. Also keep an eye out for RM Lorenzo de Silvestri, formerly a Viola player, and CB Erick Ferigra, who spent last season on loan with the Fiorentina Primavera.
Mazzarri sides are known for solidity at the back, grit in midfield, and swift counterattacks, and that’ll be the order of the day here. Expect Torino to attack down the wings and look for crosses into the powerful striking duo of Andrea Belotti and Simone Zaza, with Daniele Baselli being tasked with providing a creative spark in the middle. Without Nkoulou, the backline lacks the pace to cope with the Viola strikers in behind, so expect to see the creaky Moretti in particular targeted in 1-v-1 matchups.
How to watch
TV: DAZN may have this one, but it’s probably a streamer for most of you. Check the full international television listings here.
Online: Here is your list of safe, reliable, and legal streams.
Ted’s Memorial Blind Guess Department
Just like the previous two matches between these sides, this seems like it could be a choppy, ugly, grind-it-out kind of match. Without Chiesa’s magic, it’s hard to see where Fiorentina can find a spark, and without Pezzella at the back, it’s easy to see this Viola defense making costly mistakes. Still, the removal of expectations often leads a team to play a lot more freely, so we’re calling for a 1-0 win for the hosts behind a Muriel solo goal; the rest of the game will probably be nigh unwatchable, so enjoy what you can.