Fresh off their league-leading 14th draw of the year, Fiorentina have to get ready for a rare midweek match against AS Roma. In 182 meetings dating back to 1931, the Viola have managed a record of W56 D65 L61 against the Giallorossi. Over their past 10 meetings in Serie A, though, the Gigliati have a miserable return of W2 D2 L6; on the other hand, when last these two met, it was a historic 7-1 win for the good guys in the Coppa Italia earlier this year that still seems unreal.
The referee for this one is 37-year-old Davide Massa of Imperia, who’s highly rated enough to handle Champions League and international matches. In 13 Serie A matches this year, he’s handed out 65 yellow cards, 1 red card, and 5 penalties. In the 16 games he’s reffed for Fiorentina, the good guys have managed a tally of 8 wins, 5 draws, and 3 losses. We most recently saw him in the scoreless draw at Genoa which the Viola somehow neglected to win.
The match will be played on Wednesday, 3 April 2019, at 7:00 PM GMT/3:00 PM EST at the Stadio Olimpico in Rome. The forecast calls for unpleasant conditions: heavy wind and steady rain could leave the pitch soaking wet and not much fun to play on, which may honestly benefit the visitors more than the hosts.
Since sacking Eusebio di Francesco 3 weeks ago and bringing in old friend Claudio Ranieri, things haven’t exactly worked themselves out for the Lupi, who now sit in 7th place with 47 points, one behind eternal rivals Lazio and 2 ahead of Torino in 8th. The Tinkerman’s results have been rather underwhelming thus far: a win against Empoli in his first appearance was a bit scrappy, but subsequent losses to SPAL and then a 1-4 humiliation at the hands of Napoli have made it clear that the Giallorossi have a lot of work to do if they want to qualify for Europe next year.
Part of the problem in the capital is injuries: Alessandro Florenzi (calf) and Stefan El Shaarawy (calf) are both out, as is Kostas Manolas (suspension), while Javier Pastore (calf) and Lorenzo Pellegrini (hamstring) are both doubtful as well. Ranieri has stuck with his predecessor’s 4-3-3, although he’s likely to switch it to his preferred 4-2-3-1 soon. The danger men are, of course, Edin Džeko (7 goals, 4 assists), a reborn Aleksandar Kolarov (7 goals, 1 assist), and former Fiorentina academy player Nicolò Zaniolo.
Roma excel at set pieces, with two defenders ranking among their top 4 scorers, so keep an eye out for any fouls around the box. Otherwise, expect Patrik Schick, nominally stationed on the right wing, to drift into central areas, with Zaniolo shuttling out to fill the space on the wing. Iván Marcano will probably draw the start next to Federico Fazio in defense, so a deep line will suit the Giallorossi. However, they’ll want to get Kolarov forward, so expect to see the Viola target their opponents’ leftback zone in an attempt to either pin the Serbian back or exploit the space he vacates.
Well, the Viola are officially the most mid table side in Italy. Their 37 points are good for 10th place, 7 behind Sampdoria in 9th and 5 ahead of Parma in 11th. If you really still think that the club could storm into 7th, meeting Andrea Della Valle’s preseason goal, well, that’s 9 points away. It’s not like the players are rounding into form, either: 5 straight outings without a win mean they’ve collected just 3 points from those matches. It’s bad, y'all.
Manager Stefano Pioli has to be out of time, especially with a replacement reportedly lined up already in the form of former Sassuolo and Roma mister Eusebio di Francesco. Pioli will also have to plan around the absence of Federico Chiesa (abdominal) and Edimilson Fernandes (leg). Germán Pezzella will at least return to the side, but we could see some rotation as well, especially as the coach looks to blood some new talent.
Any of Federico Ceccherini, David Hancko, and Bryan Dabo could enter the first XI, while Gerson could get a look on the wing against his parent club if Kevin Mirallas’ legs aren’t ready for another start. Don’t expect another 7-1 sort of result, as Ranieri is happy to drop his defense deep to prevent space in behind. That means we could see a rather scuffling effort from the visitors, although the focus will, as ever, be on exploiting space and speed behind the defense and through the channels. In particular, Luis Muriel will play a key role here, as his sheer speed could be Fiorentina’s primary weapon.
How to watch
TV: Looks like it’s RAI or bust for this one, but check the full international listings here.
Online: Here is your list of safe, reliable, and legal streams.
Ted’s Memorial Blind Guess Department
While Fiorentina are quite unsteady right now, Roma are in full-fledged crisis mode. Between the injuries and the confusion around the club, they might be even more broken than Fiorentina, which is saying something. Given the slowness of the defense and the general quagmire in which the team is held, I think that the Viola will be able to find space in behind, especially since Roma will push up at home. That should leave a lot of space for the Viola to break into, and we’ve seen how that one ends. Therefore, I’ll call it a 2-1 win for the visitors, with goals from Simeone (who’s got a good record against the Lupi) and Muriel, with Fazio pulling one back off a set piece.