We’re finally done with the international break, and Fiorentina will hope to emerge from the layoff with a bang against defending champion Juventus. In 178 meetings since 1932, the Viola are W39 D56 L83 with a -94 goal difference. Over their past 10 league clashes, the good guys have won just a single match; the rest don’t really matter. This fixture last year resulted in a 0-3 defeat that was about as pleasant as having your toenails pulled out.
The referee for this one is 40 year old (and Florence-born) Massimiliano Irrati. This will be his first Serie A match of the year; for his career, he’s handed out 513 yellow cards, 28 red cards, and 29 penalties in 103 games. In the 8 Viola clashes he’s handled, the good guys are W2 D1 L5, including the 1-0 loss to Empoli last year and the 0-1 to Sassuolo the year before, both of which featured red cards for Fiorentina; it’s always seemed like, perhaps due to being from Firenze, he’s staunchly dedicated to proving that the Gigliati will receive no favoritism from him.
The match will be played on Saturday, 14 September 2019, at 1:00 PM GMT/9:00 AM EST at the Stadio Artemio Franchi in Florence. The forecast calls for a pretty dang warm day with no shortage of humidity, so we could see a slightly more sluggish pace than we’d like, which generally favors whichever team scores first and then can sit back and focus on counterattacking.
Look, the Viola are going to win another game at some point. After all, even Chievo Verona tallied a couple of victories in their historically awful season last year. The question is when it’ll happen and whether Fiorentina will have anything resembling a team spirt by then. Following a referee-assisted defeat against Napoli and a predictable upset loss to Genoa, this team has now gone 16 straight matches without a win in the league dating back to last year. That’s, uh, very bad.
Manager Vincenzo Montella has to be worried that he’s facing the sack, even this early in the season, as he’s yet to earn a win in his second stint on the Viola bench. He’ll have the full complement of his players, although he’ll have some choices to make. There have been rumors that he could bench captain Germán Pezzella in favor of Erik Pulgar in defense, which would probably mean Marco Benassi returning to midfield. Il Aeroplanino will probably pick the experience and physicality of Kevin-Prince Boateng up top, with Dušan Vlahović or maybe even Fred coming off the bench. Franck Ribery could draw the start over Riccardo Sottil, but Vinnie’s preferred him in a bench role thus far.
Against a Sarri-led team, the primary goal is to stay compact, minimizing space between the lines for attackers to exploit. As the hosts will likely choose a higher line than Juve’s used to seeing, pressing the midfielders, particularly Miralem Pjanić, will prove crucial, but the real test will be trying to catch the Bianconeri rearguard out, as they looked rather shaky last week at times against Napoli. That’ll probably be Montella’s main brief in attack: look to isolate Federico Chiesa against Danilo and hope for a Benassi strike out of nowhere.
After 2 weeks, it looks like business as usual in the table for Newcastle Junior, but it’s been anything but that on the pitch. A narrow win at Parma required an ultra-scrappy goal from a defender, while an attacking explosion saw the defense ship 3 goals against Napoli last time out. And with a Champions League rematch against Atletico Madrid looming in the group stages, it’s possible that the villains overlook this fixture, although that’s probably the raw optimism talking.
Manager Maurizio Sarri (fully recovered from his pneumonia) will have to do without captain and defensive stalwart Giorgio Chiellini (knee), fullback Mattia de Sciglio (hamstring), and midfielder Aaron Ramsey (back), but has the squad depth to compensate for all those absences besides perhaps Chiellini’s. Matthijs de Ligt will step into the captain’s boots at the back, with all of Blaise Matuidi, Sami Khedira, Adrien Rabiot, and Emre Can vying for the two midfield spots alongside Miralem Pjanić. Up top, a rejuvenated Gonzalo Higuaín will be flanked by Cristiano Ronaldo and probably Douglas Costa.
After seeing de Ligt’s struggles against Napoli, expect Montella to target the youngster with Chiesa, who’ll also try to get the better of Danilo. The rumors of Pulgar at the back indicate that Montella could be looking to build moves from deep, hinting at a rather braver intention than sitting deep and trying to counter, but we’re not completely convinced; after watching Juve against Napoli, Vinnie could be planning to open things up a little bit and give the fans a spectacle.
How to watch
TV: RAI is worth a look if you get the channel. Check the full international television listings here.
Online: Here is your list of safe, reliable, and legal streams.
Ted’s Memorial Blind Guess Department
no— wint (@dril) September 15, 2008