8 days after a Davide Massa screw job for the ages, Fiorentina hop back in the saddle for a trip to Genoa. Last time we saw these two play was a disgusting display on match day 38 last year in the Franchi, with both sides doing nothing besides watching the result of the Inter Milan-Empoli fixture. The reverse leg ended in a similar result, albeit because the Viola couldn’t finish to save their skins. In their 106 meetings since 1931, Fiorentina hold a distinct advantage of W47 D37 L22; over their last 10 meetings, it’s been a pretty boring W2 D7 L1, though (including 5 goalless draws), so don’t be surprised if the Grifoni manage to split points again.
The referee for this one is 41-year-old Piero Giacomelli of Trieste. Last year, he handed out 63 yellow cards, 2 red cards, and 6 penalties in 18 games refereed. Under his watch, the Viola are W5 D5 L4. We last saw him in the penultimate match of last year (a 0-1 loss at Parma), in which he was fine aside from allowing Juraj Kucka to continue playing after spiking the bejeezus out of poor Gerson.
The match will be played on Sunday, 1 September 2019, at 6:45 PM GMT/2:45 PM EST at the Stadio Luigi Ferraris in Genoa. The forecast calls for a sultry summer evening with a slight chance of light precipitation, but it shouldn’t be as punishingly hot as the past couple of weeks.
The Grifoni went to AS Roma and played out an electric 3-3 draw which may have had more to do with the shortcomings in the Lupi defense than their own attacking nous, considering that they put just 4 shots on target to 9 for their hosts. This isn’t the same side that slumped its way into Serie A survival last May, though, so don’t expect this to be particularly easy.
New boss Aurelio Andreazzoli has mostly used a 3-5-2 this year, although he’s shown a willingness to go 4-4-2 as well. He’ll be without midfielders Stefano Sturaro (knee) and Marko Pajač (suspended); Viola loanee Riccardo Saponara (hamstring) is sidelined as well. New signings Lasse Schöne and Lukas Lerager have strengthened the midfield, while Andrea Pinamonti scored last week and looks a dangerous partner for the promising Christian Kouamé; they’ll be one of the most dynamic young strike forces in Italy this year.
Stylistically, the Grifoni like to hit long balls into the channels for Kouamé, which isn’t as desperate as it sounds, given that with Schöne and Ivan Radovanović, they’ve got guys who can hit those. They also look to cross as often as possible, even from deep positions, and count on Pinamonti’s knack for pouncing on loose balls in the box to pay dividends. The wingbacks are primarily there for defense and crossing and don’t provide too much goal threat, and while Lerager will charge into the area given the chance, it’s mostly the strikers who carry the attacking burden.
They certainly should have earned at least a draw last week against the Partenopei, but the fact remains that this team hasn’t won a league match since 17 February, which is a very long time. Showing promise against last year’s runners-up despite some adverse circumstances is good, sure, but this fanbase desperately needs to see a big win.
Manager Vincenzo Montella will have his full squad to choose from, assuming no sudden arrivals or departures before kickoff. He has a tough decision in defense, where Aleksa Terzić, Lorenzo Venuti, and possibly the just-arrived Dalbert will all look for a berth. Farther forward he’s got more headaches, as Riccardo Sottil was fantastic against Napoli but Franck Ribery remains, well, Franck Ribery; at striker, too, he has to choose between Dušan Vlahović and Kevin-Prince Boateng, both of whom have had massive impacts as substitutes over the past two weeks but fizzled as starters.
For a team that wants to sit deep and hit on the break, Genoa looked very susceptible to pace in behind, partly because Domenico Criscito has moved into the center of the back three from fullback and seems to still be adjusting. With the speed and technique Fiorentina boast in attack, this seems like the best way to attack, particularly if Gaetano Castrovilli can float between the lines again to thread passes through. Of interest also is that Criscito isn’t exactly commanding in the air, so targeting him for crosses may be a good tactic as well.
How to watch
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Ted’s Memorial Blind Guess Department
Narrative says that Genoa are riding a bit too high after an away point from Roma and that Fiorentina come out angry after getting robbed. Tactically, this feels like a good setup for the Viola too, as their pace in behind will trouble the Ligurians and the defense has the pace to run with their hosts’ attackers. We’ll call it a 2-0, with Sottil opening the scoring and Chiesa striking late to seal it.