Midweek fixtures mean that Fiorentina players need to get their heads right after a completely predictable meltdown against Atalanta on Sunday denied them their first Serie A win of the Rocco Commisso era and stretched their winless streak in the league to a mind-numbing 18. The Viola return to Florence to host fellow strugglers Sampdoria, who’ve been on a similarly rocky trajectory following a slightly tumultuous summer. In 131 meetings since they first clashed in 1946, the Gigliati hold W46 D49 L36 advantage, including W2 D5 L3 over their past 10; last time they met in Tuscany, it finished 3-3 courtesy of some Luis Muriel magic for the hosts and a bit of everything: Vitor Hugo-handball PK, Edimilson Fernandes red card, stoppage time goals, and all the fun stuff.
The referee for this one is 41-year-old Daniele Doveri of Roma. In 3 Serie A matches this year, he’s issued just 7 bookings, which is well below his career rate. He’s genuinely one of the less dramatic refs in Italy, but also has a penchant for letting matches descend into midfield hacking contests. In 19 league matches under his direction, Fiorentina are W11 D1 L7.
The match will be played on Wednesday, 25 September 2019, at 7:00 PM GMT/3:00 PM EST, at the Stadio Artemio Franchi in Florence. The forecast calls for a muggy day with a likelihood of light rain, so bring an umbrella if you’re heading to the stadium.
Yes, you read that correctly earlier. Fiorentina have gone 18 straight games in Serie A without finding a win, which has to be at least pushing for some sort of record. While it’s easy to assume that this is the work of gross incompetence over the past 9 months, there have been signs of life this season; a draw stolen by absurd refereeing against Napoli, an impressive point against Juventus, and 83 minutes of a win at Atalanta are impressive results. On the other hand, getting shelled by Genoa is a bad look, so who knows?
Manager Vincenzo Montella must be feeling the heat just a little bit, as he’s directed his team to the very bottom of the table with just 2 points. He’ll have his whole team to choose from and will probably stick with the 3-5-2 that’s earned the only points of the season thus far. With just 3 days elapsed since a draining 90 minutes against la Dea, we could see some squad rotation, with guys like Riccardo Sottil, Luca Ranieri, Szymon Żurkowski, Aleksa Terzić, and maybe even ballyhooed striker Pedro getting a chance.
As Franck Ribery is unlikely to start this one, Federico Chiesa’s partner could change the plans considerably. If it’s a winger like Sottil, the same fluid approach we’ve seen the past two weeks will probably continue. If it’s more of a traditional striker, we could see Chiesa buzzing all over the place and trying to link with the front man, which would result in a slightly more static formation but also provide a presence in the box, which has been sorely lacking.
It’s been nearly as bad a start for the Blucerchiati as it has for the Viola, although the blue-and-white half of Genoa has at least gotten its first win with a 1-0 over Torino last week. They’ve still been outscored 9-2 on the season, though, so it’s not as if everything’s hunky-dory for them now.
Manager Eusebio di Francesco just changed his formation considerably, dropping his trademark 4-3-3 in favor of a 3-4-2-1. CM Mehdi Léris (flu) may still be under the weather, but there are plenty of other options for central midfield. You know that the dangerman is, as always, Fabio Quagliarella, but Gianluca Caprari, Nicola Rigoni, and Manolo Gabbiadini round out a decent attack.
This is a very top heavy team, though, with lots of talent going forward and not as much on the back foot. The defense has shown a serious problem allowing players in behind, which means that Chiesa could have another big evening. Expect the Viola to defend very narrow in an effort to crowd Quagliarella and company out of the box, as the Blucerchiati don’t carry any serious aerial threat besides Quags. With a numerical advantage in midfield, more possession could be in play, tempting Samp forward before dropping the ball in behind for the attackers.
How to watch
TV: Since this is 20th vs 19th, probably not, but you can check the full international listings here.
Online: Here is your list of safe, reliable, and legal streams. If you’re in the US, ESPN+ is showing it; sign up using this link if you don’t have an account yet and Viola Nation will get a little bit of cash (Vox Media has affiliate partnerships. These do not influence editorial content, though Vox Media may earn commissions for products purchased via affiliate links.).
Ted’s Memorial Blind Guess Department
With two of the league’s worst defenses, you’d expect this one to feature more goals. Chiesa should be able to get on the scoresheet again by sprinting in behind, and that could open up space at the top of the box for Gaetano Castrovilli to exploit. On the other hand, nobody thinks that this pathetic Viola rearguard is going to keep a clean sheet against the ageless wonder that is Quagliarella. We’ll call it, then, a 2-1 win for the hosts, even though predicting anything besides a draw or a loss for this edition of the Viola feels like a very bad idea.