It’s never a good thing when three of your starters are out hurt, but that’s what Fiorentina is dealing with right now. The club released a very brief update on the statuses (stati?) of Germán Pezzella, Pol Lirola, and Franck Ribery this morning. The former two left Sunday’s win over Udinese with injuries, while the latter wasn’t even fit enough for the bench.
Pezzella went down after a fairly standard-looking challenge in the 38th minute. He made it off the field under his own power, but was clearly favoring his foot and was spotted in a walking boot after the game, which is never a good sign. The diagnosis is a sprain; depending on the severity, that could mean that he’s out for a week or two months. Since he was just returning from an ankle injury picked up in the preseason, it might be smart to rest him for as long as it takes and integrate Lucas Martínez Quarta a bit more quickly.
Lirola is also listed as dealing with an ankle issue, although he just took an all-around beating from the Zebrette, highlighted by a power slide into his own post propelled by Kevin Lasagna and an extremely dangerous tackle (more of a Stone Cold Stunner) courtesy of Samir. He also looked like he was in serious pain, but we’d guess it was more of an impact injury and he’s just getting a day or two off from training to recover.
Ribery, on the other hand, is dealing with the dreaded “muscular issue.” Soft tissue injuries have plagued him for years—he hasn’t missed fewer than 8 games in a season since 2014—and niggles like this have been the primary culprit. Since the report doesn’t specify what exactly is ailing him, it’s tough to ascertain a timetable for his return, but it’s likely another week or two if he’s not even ready for the bench.
That means that Viola boss Giuseppe Iachini will likely have to scramble to fill those holes. Martínez Quarta alternated between iffy and promising in his Fiorentina debut, although you can’t hold the poor moments against him considering that he was subbed in (always tricky for a defender) and dealing with an out-of-position Nikola Milenković next to him. With a week’s worth of work in that spot, he should be fine. The real question is if using him on the right of the back three means that Martín Cáceres, whom LMQ was likely to replace at some point soon, will retain his position despite weeks of catastrophic decisions. Beppe probably won’t want to swap out two of his three defenders, so Igor will likely stay nailed to the pine.
If Lirola misses any time, Iachini has a much simpler solution, as Lorenzo Venuti—who possesses the requisite athleticism to get up and down the line for 90 minutes—is a very capable backup and should excel in the deep role that BeppeBall requires. It’s a bummer for Pol, though, who was the best player for the Viola after Gaetano Castrovilli and Bartłomiej Drągowski. It’d be nice to see him build up some momentum in his preferred right wingback role, especially after he struggled so much late last year when used on the left. He’s a good player and just needs some continuity, which this knock could interrupt.
As for Franck, there’s simply no way to replace him. José Callejón had a few nice moments but clearly isn’t anything like the Frenchman, and asking him to replicate Ribery’s dribbling and passing is a complete failure. The problem here is that Fiorentina will have to stick with the 3-5-2, as the only natural winger available now is Callejón. While we could see Christian Kouamé elevated to that second striker position, he’s not nearly the passer or dribbler that Ribery is. Perhaps an experiment with Giacomo Bonaventura or even Gaetano Castrovilli in that area could work, but without Franck’s fantasia, we’re likely looking at a Viola that will hunker down into its own area even more grimly than before an rely on quick transitions.