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Parma 1-0 Fiorentina: Recap and player ratings

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Wow, who could’ve thought that Fiorentina wouldn’t win here?

Parma Calcio v ACF Fiorentina - Serie A Photo by Mario Carlini / Iguana Press/Getty Images

Pre-match

Both Fiorentina and Parma came into this one knowing that a win would ensure their survival in Serie A next season, while a draw would improve their chances. They therefore named their “strongest” squads, although Vincenzo Montella opted for Giovanni Simeone over Luis Muriel at striker while Roberto d’Aversa was stuck with Fabio Ceravolo up top due to Roberto Inglese’s ongoing injury issues.

First half

Fiorentina came out much the stronger side and Federico Chiesa could have opened the scoring at 7’. He powered down the left and shot from a tight angle, swiping the ball just wide of the back post, with Simeone well-positioned to tap it in had he passed. Gervinho responded for Parma 2 minutes later with a drive off the upright after cutting into the box and wriggling himself into a bit of space against Nikola Milenković. Fiorentina came back with a fairly tame shot from distance by Jordan Veretout and a blast way over the bar from Cristiano Biraghi not really troubling Luigi Sepe.

Gervinho had another gilt-edged chance at 17’ to score, but completely misjudged a cross and whiffed on a volley inside the area. Kevin Mirallas completely destroyed a nice break the other direction by rolling the ball straight to Sepe along the turf a few minutes later, and pulled a hamstring moments after that to end his night early. Montella opted to bring on Bryan Dabo as a wingback, shifting Fiorentina from a 4-3-3 to a 3-5-2.

At 38’, Chiesa corralled a bomb over the top from Federico Ceccherini and laid it back to Cholito, who swept a first-time volley with his left just wide of the post when he really should have gotten on frame. 2 minutes later, Riccardo Gagliolo beat Ceccherini (for the second time on the night) to a header off a corner but powered it into the bar. But it was the Viola who really borked it at the other end. First Marco Benassi nicked the ball back by the endline and squared for Simeone, who was tightly marked, sure, but still couldn’t convert from literally a foot away. Just before the break, the ball went pinging around the area and finally dropped for him again. Completely alone, 15 yards from goal, and with time to settle himself, he tried to curl a shot into the top corner and ended up missing the goal by a matter of feet. For any other striker on any other team, it would have been a shocking miss; for Fiorentina’s Simeone, it was very much par for this season.

Second half

3 minutes after the restart, Chiesa came inches away from handing his side the lead with a blast that Sepe pushed onto the crossbar. A minute later, he won the ball back on the Parma endline by willing himself past two defenders and crossed, but Benassi’s glancing header was just over the bar. Fiorentina were settling in nicely, with Biraghi’s crosses causing some trouble, but it was Vitor Hugo who almost opened the scoring just before the hour mark with a diving header off a corner that was somehow blocked off the line. The stadium came alive, though, with news that Empoli had taken the lead over Torino, which pushed Parma further up the standings.

Juraj Kucka (who maybe shouldn’t have been playing after blatantly spiking Gerson earlier) won a towering header at 67’ that beat Alban Lafont but not Benassi, who made an incredibly acrobatic clearance off the line. Parma were starting to dominate, though, as the Viola retreated. Chiesa made a nice move to cut inside and shoot after Dabo found him in the area, but it was right at Sepe.

Luis Muriel, brought on in place of Simeone, came close to making an impact at 78’ with a low strike that fizzed just past Sepe’s post, and Milenković—freed up on the back post from a corner after a brilliant set piece routine left him completely alone—slipped his volley against the post from point blank range a minute later. After that, of course, Parma scored: a free kick ricocheted around a crowd before coming off of Gerson’s back and looping into the goal with Lafont helpless. Fiorentina spent the rest of the match lumping crosses into the Parma area but never looked like scoring, and the Crociati fans raucously celebrated their continuance in Serie A as soon as the triple blast sounded.

Post-match

Vincenzo Montella, in a must-win game against a fellow relegation struggler, picked Simeone over Muriel. That’s basically a fireable offense on its own, but coupled with his inability to motivate these players in the slightest, it’s become increasingly clear that he’s simply not able to work at this level right now. If Fiorentina get relegated, he could well find himself sacked despite the 2-year contract he just signed.

Speaking of relegation, Fiorentina are still in 15th and still very much in the (paging Dr. Loggins) danger zone. We’ll have a look at the scenarios later in the week that could assure safety, but for now, let’s just remember that this is a team that was tapped for a Europa League spot by pundits and ownership at the start of the year and is now truly at risk of relegation on the final matchday. It’s a sorry state of affairs for one of Italy’s most iconic clubs.

Player grades

Lafont: 6—Not really at fault for the goal, although a quicker reaction would have been sort of nice. Didn’t have too much else to do, honestly, but didn’t make any huge mistakes today. For him, that’s a plus right now.

Milenković: 6—Wasn’t terrible at all. Mostly kept Gervinho quiet and came up with a few big stops in the area. On the other hand, he really should have scored. Like, he really should have scored. Still, though, he doesn’t look as lost as he did earlier this month, so that’s nice.

Ceccherini: 4.5—Clearly targeted on set pieces and couldn’t cope with Gagliolo or Ceravolo in the air. That’s, uh, not great.

Vitor Hugo: 5—He was present, I guess.

Biraghi: 6—Put in some dangerous crosses and kept his side of the pitch pretty quiet on defense. Not a bad performance.

Benassi: 5—The goal line clearance was spectacular and he came close to scoring with a header, but was a bit scattered in possession as per usual.

Gerson: 5—The own goal really wasn’t his fault, and he was the best player of the first half as a regista. Showed some previously unseen fire as a ball-winner, won a bunch of fouls, and kept things ticking along. Faded badly after the break.

Veretout: 5—Threaded a few nice balls through, but his head really seems to be with Napoli already.

Mirallas: 3—The injury may have been the kindest thing, as he was simply awful out there today. Let’s hope he recovers quickly, but let’s also hope that the time off from training gives him a chance to get whatever spirits possessed him a chance to move on.

Simeone:

Chiesa: 6—Had some good chances, but towards the end got way too selfish and tried to do too much, which resulted in Parma shutting him down way too easily when his team needed him the most.

Dabo: 4.5—Didn’t really do much of anything.

Muriel: 4—Had one nice shot, but that was it.

Vlahović: n/a—Only came on for a few minutes at the end.