With both sides in danger of relegation but assured salvation with a point, we perhaps could have expected a dull affair. The Fiorentina fans, though, didn’t get that memo; true to their word, they showed up in a big way, creating an atmosphere worthy of a cup final with a full-throated display for well over 90 minutes. Had they known what was to come, perhaps they wouldn’t have bothered.
Luis Muriel tracked down a Nikola Milenković hoof up the pitch and nearly volleyed it home after 30 seconds, and that was pretty much the last significant Fiorentina chance of the half. Genoa nearly scored from a fluky free kick that required a very lucky kick save from Alban Lafont, and a typically catastrophic pass from the young goalkeeper out the back certainly deserved to be punished a few minutes later—had it been anyone but centenarian Goran Pandev, the Viola would have been punished—but the first period was pretty much just this:
The only real action in the second half was how Genoa reacted to every goal in the Inter Milan-Empoli game; when the Tuscans twice pulled even, the Grifoni began hurling numbers forward, but parked the bus every time the Nerazzurri took the lead. It would have been funny if it weren’t such an embarrassment to the game.
Fiorentina avoided the drop, and that is the only positive thing you can draw from that performance, which was a real biscotto. It seemed like the teams had signed a nonaggression pact, as neither really made any effort to get forward. Indeed, the Viola looked confused at times as they advanced the ball to within 30 yards of the opposition goal before any semblance of pressure arrived to harry them. It was just a terrible spectacle. The players didn’t care, temporary coach Daniele Russo didn’t seem to care—he made a single 90th minute substitution with his team playing an obviously inferior opponent at home and needing a win to be assured of avoiding the drop—and, at the end of the day, the fans are the only ones who can go home satisfied with their effort.
All we can do now is try to forget that this abomination of a season ever happened. Expect at least half of this squad to be gone next year, so hopefully nobody will drag the obvious disinterest into Moena and beyond. But with the potential for a new owner and a massive organizational shakeup, we’re still slated for a very busy summer.
Lafont: 4.5—He made one highlight reel save on a free kick, but given that he was sliding and it hit his shin, it’s hard not to think that he lost the ball in the crowd and was lucky enough for it to hit him and bounce out rather than rattle into the net. Nearly gave it away with yet another bad pass out the back.
Milenković: 6.5—Physically dominated the likes of Pandev and Christian Kouamé for the full 90 and added the occasional foray forward as well, including one bulldozing run that saw him shrug off a pair of would-be defenders before swiping a shot narrowly off target.
Pezzella: 5.5—Battled well despite wearing a mask to protect his broken face, showing no fear of aerial challenges and looking like his usual, well-positioned self. His face after the Lafont error was quite expressive, but it’s hard not to ping him for the team’s toothless display in attack, given that he’s the man wearing the armband.
Vitor Hugo: 5—As usual, seemed like a howler waiting to happen. Completely lost his footing on Lafont’s dumb pass, compounding the situation significantly, and wasn’t nearly as secure as his partners at the back.
Benassi: 4—Finally stationed permanently in the wingback role he’s basically played all season, but it didn’t really help him. Hit two decent crosses in the first half, then pretty much vanished. Had trouble tracking back at times and didn’t really provide any attacking threat.
Veretout: 4—In what was presumably his last match in a purple shirt, he earned a round of jeers from the crowd when he was subbed off after a rather insipid performance. Would love to know what happened to the hard-charging, no-nonsense mezzala of last year; this was but a pale shadow.
Gerson: 4—Given how deep Genoa had dropped, he had acres of space and time on the ball for most of the game. He didn’t really do much with it, though, when a few of his barreling runs forward might have been useful.
Fernandes: 4—Played a very Edi game, what with the useless or misplaced passes, the attempts to dribble in unfavorable circumstances, and the feckless positioning off the ball briefly offset by a flash of class.
Biraghi: 6—Seemed one of three players who gave a damn out there. Was his usual tireless, overlapping self. Played in a few decent crosses (along with one or two that were very bad) and mostly kept his wing quiet on defense.
Chiesa: 5—Seemed half a step slow all game, particularly after suffering a whammy in the first half that pulled him off the pitch for a bit. We’re choosing to believe that it was his effort to convince the vultures that he’s not ready for prime time yet.
Muriel: 7—The only player who did a damn thing in attack. Went on several mesmerizing runs from inside his own half, and would have earned an assist or two had anyone run with him and seemed to really be giving his all to get a goal for the team. Shame that most of his teammates couldn’t have cared less.
Dabo: n/a—Came on in stoppage time to run out some more clock.