Fiorentina must shake off yet another late loss last week at Parma and get a result against a Genoa side that needs a win to ensure promotion; expect a very tense affair. Last time these two met, it finished scoreless. The Viola have only lost once to the Grifoni in their past 18 meetings, and hold a significant edge in the 105 matches they’ve played since their first meeting in 1931: W47 D36 L22. Rarely, though, have they seen the Rossoblu this desperate, so prepare for a physical, grinding, and desperate clash.
The referee for this one is 43-year-old Daniele Orsato of Vicenza, who’s one of the few Italian officials qualified to work Champions League and international matches. In 18 Serie A matches this year, he’s handed out 103 yellow cards, 1 red card, and 4 penalties; he prefers to let things go, especially in the attacking third, so don’t be surprised if this one gets very physical. In 32 games under his direction, Fiorentina are W9 D9 L14, which doesn’t bode especially well. Most recently, he pretty well butchered the 1-1 draw against Lazio.
The match will be played on Sunday, 26 May 2019, at 6:30 PM GMT/2:30 PM EST, at the Stadio Artemio Franchi in Florence. The forecast calls for a warm, somewhat drizzly spring day, but it should be a fairly pleasant one in the stands and on the pitch.
Fiorentina is on its longest winless streak—13 matches—since 1981 and hasn’t won at home since 16 December against fellow stragglers Empoli. While a loss wouldn’t ensure relegation (if you’re not sure, we’ve laid out the scenarios here), it would give put the team’s fate into the hands of Empoli and Udinese, who play Inter Milan and Cagliari to ensure their own survival. Needless to say, this is a genuinely embarrassing state of affairs for one of Italy’s most recognizable and storied clubs.
Manager Vincenzo Montella (who’s suspended for this one) will have his full squad at his disposal, as BatGermán Pezzella (face) will be ready and wearing a mask. Expect a return for Luis Muriel up top as Montella shifts his side to a 3-5-2 with Kevin Mirallas at wingback. As usual, it will be a bit of a muddle tactically, as this set of players simply doesn’t fit Montella’s philosophy at all. With Jordan Veretout reportedly agreeing to terms with Napoli already, the only competent passer in the midfield may have his head elsewhere, so don’t expect a lot of invention in that area.
That’s a shame, since the best way to beat Genoa has been to stretch them with width up the pitch and quick switches of play, which in turn opens space through the middle. That should suit wingbacks Mirallas and Cristiano Biraghi, but Veretout and someone else (Gerson? Edimilson Fernandes?) need to spray those balls to the flanks. An alternative would be a 4-3-3 with Simeone coming into the side. At the other end, the Grifoni are more crafty than overpowering and, while they don’t offer bags of pace, do possess plenty of guile; the backline needs to remain switched on or we could be in for a catastrophe.
Genoa have been nearly as bad as Fiorentina of late, mired as they are in a streak of 9 straight without a win. Their last victory, in fact, was a shocking upset of Juventus, and they’ve steadily slid down the table since then. As they sit in 18th place, they’ll need at least a point—if Inter fall to Empoli—and preferably a win to ensure that they don’t end their 12-year stay in Serie A.
Manager Cesare Prandelli (can you imagine if he were the one to send Fiorentina down) has a bit of a selection crisis on his hands, with LB Giuseppe Pezzella (suspension), CM Stefano Sturaro (knee), CM Oscar Hiljemark (hip), RM Darko Lazović (leg), and CF Andrea Favilli (leg) all out. San Cesare seems to still be looking for his primary formation: 3-5-2 has been his usual choice, but he’s also dabbled with 4-3-3 and 4-4-2.
Genoa have focused on clogging up the middle this year, although that may not be as necessary against a Viola side that clogs itself pretty effectively without any interference from the opposition. Going forward, they don’t carry much threat: Krzysztof Piątek’s 13 goals are more than triple anyone else in the side. Gianluca Lapadula is finally starting to look healthy again, so keep an eye on him, but Genoa’s identity all year has been creating a tough(ish) defense and not worrying about the goals too much.
How to watch
TV: Unlikely, as most channels will be showing the Inter Milan vs Empoli match, as it has Champions League implications. Feel free to check the full international television listings here, though.
Online: Here is your list of safe, reliable, and legal streams.
Ted’s Memorial Blind Guess Department
Trying to figure out what’s the most Fiorentina possible outcome. I see three possible options: first, the Viola dominate, blowing Genoa out of the water, and convince the Della Valles that no big changes are needed this summer; second, they scrape out the ugliest possible draw that’s nigh unwatchable but still keeps them up; or third, losing to a late goal and staying in Serie A only because Udinese or Empoli get cooked. I refuse to entertain the notion that Fiorentina will be relegated because that’s not nice to think about and we could all use some nice things to think about for once this season.