Bartłomiej Drągowski—7.5: Fiorentina’s best player on the night, the Polish keeper was basically faultless on both Roma goals and made a string of fine saves to keep this from turning into a blowout.
Lucas Martínez Quarta—4: Brutal first Serie A start for the Argentine, who was directly at fault for the opening goal by getting in the way of Milenković, and constantly out of position before seeing his night end early thanks to a straight red for a horror lunge on Edin Džeko.
Nikola Milenković—6.5: The other (somewhat) bright spot of the evening for the Viola was the Serb’s imperious defending and especially his ability to contain Džeko for most of the match. He was also precise in his passing, almost never giving the ball away unnecessarily.
Martin Cáceres—5.5: It wasn’t a terrible night for the Uruguayan all things considered, and there were no glaring mistakes although he was very fortunate not to concede a penalty to Lorenzo Pellegrini after a bad Biraghi giveaway forced him into an awkward challenge.
Pol Lirola—5: Failed to track Leonardo Spinazzola on Roma’s first goal and didn’t offer much in terms of supporting the attack. It made sense he wouldn’t push forward as frequently with Spinazzola on his flank, but he failed almost entirely to find any rhythm down the right side.
Cristiano Biraghi—5: A few unnecessary giveaways in possession, but more than anything the Italian offered virtually nothing going forward aside from a few aimless crosses, never managing to exploit a favorable matchup and make life difficult for Roma right back Rick Karsdorp, a clear weak link.
Giacomo Bonaventura—5: Still not sure exactly where he was supposed to be playing as at times he looked an attacking right winger and at others he was dropping deep to receive the ball from the backline. Regardless, none of it went well and a few lazily lost balls could easily have led to more Roma damage.
Gaetano Castrovilli—5.5: Subbed off at the interval after picking up a yellow card midway through the first half and then nearly getting sent off, the youngster was lively at the outset, with a decent shot curled wide and two dangerous setups that could have changed the complexion of the match entirely.
Sofyan Amrabat—5: Per usual, the Moroccan racked up plenty of touches in the midfield, but failed to turn them into anything of real substance and was at fault on a few careless giveaways. In addition, he failed to track Pedro on the second goal, inexplicably losing him entirely despite Fiorentina having a 5 v. 3 numerical advantage against the Roma counter.
Franck Ribéry—5.5: Completely isolated in attack, the Frenchman was largely forced to go it alone and had a rough time against Gianluca Mancini, who made his presence felt all game and forced an uncharacteristic turnover or two which led directly to Roma counters.
José Callejón—4.5: Completely lost and out position as a central striker (I think?), the Spaniard managed an abysmal 17 touches across his 66 minutes on the pitch. Was clearly uncomfortable in his role and kept looking to drift out to the right flank before remembering where he was supposed to be playing and ultimately ending up somewhere in between, which is: nowhere.
Erick Pulgar—5: On for Castrovilli at halftime, the Chilean left no memorable impression apart from a few needless giveaways due to lax control that led to Roma counters.
Dusan Vlahović—5: On for Bonaventura for the final 35 minutes, the youngster once again struggled to maintain possession, completing a team-low 66.7% of his passes and not managing anything remotely dangerous towards the opponent’s net.
Christian Kouamé—5.5: On for Callejón for the last 25 minutes, the Ivorian was lively and full of running and, if ultimately ineffective, earns a half point for managing Fiorentina’s lone on-target attempt, a well-timed header straight at the keeper.
Patrick Cutrone—n/a: On for the final nine minutes with the game essentially out of reach.
Joseph Alfred Duncan—n/a: See previous entry.
Three Things We Learned
1. Iachini is losing faith in the strike force. It’s no secret Fiorentina’s attack has been its weakest link this campaign, but leaving the trio of Vlahović, Cutrone and Kouamé on the bench when they were all fit enough to come on as substitutes proves the coach has little to no confidence in them. This should come as no surprise given their scoring record, but to date at least Iachini has stood by them, which makes one wonder just how involved the three will be going forward. I understand the desire to have your best players on the pitch—players like Callejón, for example—but to change the personnel and not adjust the system they’re playing in doesn’t seem like a great idea, as tonight showed.
2. Duncan deserves a closer look. So far this season the Ghaanian has played just over 100 Serie A minutes, making one start and two substitute appearances. Yet even in 10 minutes against Roma, the elegant simplicity of his game were apparent, as it has been across his entire time in Florence, even if this is an admittedly small sample size. Where he excels is getting himself into a position to receive the ball from the backline and then helping the team transition into attack, whether by passing it forward or by dribbling. Nothing fancy, and if it sounds stupidly simple that’s because he’s a smart, talented player who make its look that way and who could provide exactly what this team has surprisingly been lacking in midfield.
3. It might be time for a new formation. I’m all for a new look and approach for this Fiorentina team, but simply throwing new guys into positions they’re unfamiliar with is not going to help anything. If Iachini really is insistent on not using any of the team’s pure strikers, the side has to be set up to accommodate this. I’ve written about using Ribery as a lone striker in a 4–2–3–1 (which people seemed to love), but as things stand, too many players are forced out of their true roles as we saw with both Callejón and, to an extent, Bonaventura against Roma. Perhaps the first step is to switch to a back four and thus eliminate the wingback roles of Biraghi and Lirola. What is the point of their pressing forward and crossing balls if they don’t even have anyone to aim at?