Fresh off a win that left viewers with more questions than answers, Fiorentina return to action in the third round of the Coppa Italia. Their opponent is Serie C outfit Padova, who knocked out Serie B’s Frosinone to earn a trip to Florence. In their 40 previous meetings dating back to Serie B in 1931, the Viola hold a W27 D9 L4 advantage. The last time they played was in 1998’s Coppa, with the Viola cruising to a 3-0 win on aggregate. They’ve also never lost at home to the Biancoscudati, so now the weight of history is really pressing down, eh?
The referee for this one is 31-year-old Alberto Santoro of Messina. He’s never handled a Serie A game and has just two Coppa fixtures under his belt, but he’s considered one of Italy’s brightest young referees and is hopefully part of a generation growing up unscarred by Calciopoli. He has reffed 4 Fiorentina Primavera fixtures, but this will be the biggest game he’s ever worked. From what I can tell, he’s very slow to the pocket and has yet to give a penalty kick this year, so expect him to let the players go, which could be to the visitors’ advantage.
The match will be played Wednesday, 28 October 2020, at 5:00 PM GMT/1:00 PM EST, at the Stadio Artemio Franchi in Florence. The forecast calls for a clear, cool day with nary a cloud in the sky, no rain despite some Monday showers, and pretty much anything you could want for a game. You know, except for the fans.
The first 5 matches of the Serie A season have seen Fiorentina walk away with 7 points, good for 10th in the league. While that feels like an upgrade over last year, questions remain about the composition, depth, and use of the squad, casting the Viola future into question. Despite some interesting pieces in the team, it’s fair to say that this group still seems to be underachieving despite some significant investment from Rocco Commisso; more than the players themselves, it’s the management that’s under fire, and the big boss may need to take action or risk losing the fans completely.
Manager Giuseppe Iachini will have to cope without CB Germán Pezzella (ankle), RB Pol Lirola (ankle), and CF Franck Ribery (old). He’ll also likely rotate the squad fairly heavily, as has been his custom for Coppa matches, especially with a stern test against AS Roma looming on Sunday. We’ll see GK Pietro Terracciano for sure, but guys like CB Igor, RB Lorenzo Venuti, DM Erick Pulgar, CM Alfred Duncan, and CF Patrick Cutrone could also get a run in.
Even with a rather cobbled-together lineup full of players who maybe aren’t fully on the same page, Fiorentina should dominate possession against the Biancoscudati, which will make for a welcome change. Against a defense likely to sit very deep and narrow, good delivery from the wings will likely be critical for the Viola, so expect a lot of quick switches of play to create overloads on the weak side. We could also see a real effort from the Tuscan midfielders to drive directly at their opposite numbers, either to win free kicks in dangerous spots (the team’s been good from dead balls this year) or to deform Padova’s shape and create creases for the forwards to exploit.
After falling short of promotion to Serie B last year in the third round of the playoff, the Patavini are up and flying in the third tier, leading their division after 7 matches and capturing 14 points. They’ve also won both of their Coppa matchups thus far, so it’s safe to say it’s been a strong start for the men from Padua, and they’ll have confidence and momentum on their side despite their status as vast underdogs.
Manager Andrea Mandorlini brings a wealth of experience, having worked in Serie A previously, but may have to work without CB Nahuel Valentini (hamstring), CB Anton Krešić (thigh), CF Daniele Paponi (hamstring), and CF Jefferson (thigh). He generally uses a pretty standard 4-3-3 setup with the wingers retreating to form a bank of five with the midfielders. He’s also got plenty of guys who’ve played against top tier teams: CB Siniša Anđelković, CM Emil Hallfreðsson, and CF Giacomo Beretta have all played in Serie A and won’t shrink from the moment.
That said, Fiorentina are two whole tiers above their opponents and should control things without too much trouble. Padova will likely play on the counter, looking to thump the ball long for Edoardo Soleri to hold up and lay off to onrushing midfielders or wingers. LB Felipe Curcio will also drive forward and possesses a good delivery from the wide areas (3 assists), while CM Simone Della Latta (5 goals) offers a non-stop engine and aerial presence and DM Ronaldo (4 goals, 2 assists) offer set piece delivery and a wicked shot from range. Still, the plan will likely be a smash and grab, so it should be long balls and set pieces where Padova put their money.
How to watch
TV: Check the full international television listings here, but it’s not likely.
Online: Here is your list of safe, reliable, and legal streams. It also looks awfully barren. As a reminder, please don’t share illegal streams in the comments. If you want to share email addresses briefly, I’m happy to leave them in the comments for a bit and then delete them upon request if anyone wants to directly converse with someone else about things. You know, hypothetically.
Ted’s Memorial Blind Guess Department
Fiorentina should win this one comfortably, but if we’ve learned one thing about this team, it’s that it doesn’t always do what it should. For confirmation, take a look at the Coppa games against lower tier opposition last year: it took a late rally to see off Monza and the side suffered red cards against Cittadella and Atalanta. That said, it’s tough to imagine them stumbling here. I’ll call it a 2-0 win, although it’ll likely be quite ugly; expect a scrappy goal from Kouamé’s noggin, lots of midfield scuffling, and then a late insurance goal from Tòfol Montiel in his only competitive appearance for the club this year. That feels about right.