Good news, everyone. This is Fiorentina’s penultimate match of this abominable season. Just think: in 8 days, it’ll all be over for Serie A’s most disappointing team one way or another; with relegation still an (unlikely) outcome for both the Viola and Sunday’s foes Parma, though, it’s a genuine 6-pointer. History favors the Tuscans, who own a record of W23 D21 L18 against the Crociati in their 62 meetings since their first in 1929’s Serie B. Over the last 10 contests, the Viola are a mere W3 D5 L2, including a 0-1 defeat in Florence most recently.
The referee for this one is 41-year-old Piero Giacomelli of Trieste. In 17 Serie A matches this year, he’s handed out 62 yellow cards, 2 red cards, and 6 penalties. In the 13 Fiorentina games he’s reffed, the good guys are W5 D5 L3. We saw him most recently back in the heady days of the madcap 3-3 draw in the Coppa Italia against Atalanta.
The match will be played on Sunday, 5 May 2019, at 2:00 PM GMT/10:00 AM EST at the Stadio Ennio Tardini in Parma. The forecast calls for rain, both throughout the match and for several days before, so expect the sort of slick pitch that adds even more tension to a relegation 6-pointer.
After a glowing hot start saw them climb as high as 6th in their first year back in the top flight since relegation and bankruptcy pulled them down in 2015, Parma have fallen off rather badly since the new year. They’re now all the way back in 15th, a single point behind Fiorentina. More worrying for the Crociati is that they’re only 3 points ahead of Empoli, who sit in 18th; a negative result would put them in a very nervous spot on the last day.
Manager Roberto d’Aversa is without CB Bruno Alves (suspension), CM Luca Rigoni, CM Abdou Diakhate (knee), and RW Jonathan Biabiany (ankle). He’s moved away from the 4-3-3 that brought his side so much success earlier in the season but seems to have been figured out since; he’s switched between a 3-5-2 and a 3-4-3 of late. The danger men are still pace merchant Gervinho (10 goals, 4 assists) and target man Roberto Inglese (9 goals, 1 assist); the latter is back after missing a month due to a knee injury, so he may still have some rust to work loose.
The book is now out on d’Aversa’s side: they defend deep and break forward quickly, particularly through the wide areas. Gervinho is always a danger in behind, and the midfielders do a good job of getting forward into scoring positions. They are prone to over-committing forward and leaving spaces, though, so Federico Chiesa and Luis Muriel should have some space to cook.
Hey look, it’s Fiorentina:
Vincenzo Montella will have to work without CB Germán Pezzella (face). While the mister may try to slide Vitor Hugo into defense and push Nikola Milenković out wide, Vincent Laurini seems more likely to at rightback. Edimilson Fernandes could slide in at the base of midfield, giving himself a final chance to convince his bosses to shell out €7 million to keep him around. Giovanni Simeone is likely to remain stapled to the bench.
If the Viola can stifle Gervinho, Parma is likely cooked going forward. However, they’ve been surprisingly tough at the back despite a mediocre goals against tally; without old man Alves, though, they’ve looked much more vulnerable. The real tactical issue Montella faces in attack is providing Chiesa and Muriel with service, as none of his available midfielders are much good in that department; Cristiano Biraghi’s incision will be crucial to make up for that lack in the middle.
Parma (3-4-3): Sepe; Iacopini, Gagliolo, Bastoni; Gazzola, Grassi, Kucka, Dimarco; Siligardi, Inglese, Gervinho
Fiorentina (4-3-3): Lafont; Laurini, Milenković, Ceccherini, Biraghi; Benassi, Fernandes, Dabo; Mirallas, Muriel, Chiesa
How to watch
TV: Despite the generally enjoyable (for the neutral, at least) nature of relegation scraps, doesn’t look likely. Check the full international television listings here if you’re optimistic.
Online: Here is your list of safe, reliable, and legal streams.
Ted’s Memorial Blind Guess Department
Did you know that the horn of the narwhal is actually its upper left canine tooth?