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Parma vs Fiorentina: Preview

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Two of the sloppiest teams in Serie A could wind up creating an uncontrolled, wild, and fun game. But, since the Viola are involved, it’ll likely mean heartbreak in Tuscany.

AS Roma v ACF Fiorentina - Serie A Photo by Giuseppe Maffia/NurPhoto via Getty Images

A death-spiraling Fiorentina gets a chance to straighten up and fly right when they take on an equally frustrating Parma side. In 65 competitive matches dating back to 1929’s Serie B, the Viola hold a W24 D22 L19 edge against the Gialloblu; read a bit more about the history of this tie here. Over their past 10 league meetings, it’s been a dead even W3 D4 L3. This fixture last year resulted in a gritty 1-2 win for the visitors behind an Erick Pulgar brace from the spot and served as the springboard for the Tuscans’ late surge up the table, which in turn is what kept a certain manager employed.

The referee for this one is 37-year-old Federco La Penna of Rome. In 3 matches this year, he’s handed out 19 yellow cards, 2 red cards, and 2 penalties, which is some heavy involvement even for him. He’s reffed 2 Fiorentina games and both were doozies: the 5-2 dismantling at Cagliari and the 1-1 catastrophe to Brescia right after the restart.

The match will be played on Saturday, 7 November 2020, at 7:45 PM GMT/2:45 PM EST, at the Stadio Ennio Tardini in Parma. The forecast calls for a brisk autumn evening with not a cloud in the sky. It could be a bit windy, but it’s pretty much exactly what you want under the lights.

Parma

With just 5 points from 6 matches, this outfit looks a far cry from last year’s surprise package that wound up in 11th place on 49 points. With their only win on the season coming over Hellas Verona and a 2-2 draw against Spezia (twinsies!) that only happened when the Aquilotti hit the woodwork 3 times, it seemed like everything was falling apart until Parma got a shocking draw at Inter Milan last week, which will likely goose the squad’s confidence.

Still, manager Fabio Liverani has been under fire. He’ll be without RB Vincent Laurini (leg) and could miss CF Andreas Cornelius (hamstring), but should send out his usual 4-3-1-2. Keep an eye out for former Viola malcontent Luigi Sepe in goal and Jasmin Kurtić in midfield, as well as for Juraj Kucka, who may be Serie A’s dirtiest player. Really, the Slovakian is emblematic of the team as a whole: hard-working, physical, and willing to bend or break the rules to get a win.

Parma really have two avenues of attack. The first is to hit long balls in behind to use Gervinho and Yann Karamoh’s pace to get in on goal. If that doesn’t work, they’ll shoot from distance with Kurtić, Kucka, or Hernani after rapidly working the ball forward with one-touch passing. In short, it’s all quick attacks rather than sustained pressure. That means Fiorentina will have to stay switched on to avoid letting the quick attackers in behind and close down quickly (without fouling) at the edge of the area; neither has been a strength this year, which means the Tuscans could struggle.

Fiorentina

7 points after 6 matches is good for 11th place in the league, but that hasn’t kept fans and media from wondering how much better this team ought to be. Having coughed up leads against Inter and Spezia, this outfit has given away 5 easy points, which would put it in the Champions League spots. Such mental fragility generally requires a change of some type, and rumors abound that, pending the result here, it could come shortly after the final whistle.

Manager Giuseppe Iachini, already under fire, will have to work with CB Germán Pezzella (ankle) and CB Lucas Martínez Quarta (suspension), so the defense could be a problem. The real questions are in midfield and up front, though. The engine room hasn’t worked at all this year, and the simplest fix seems to be replacing Giacomo Bonaventura with one of Erick Pulgar or Alfred Duncan. Farther forward, the question is who partners Franck Ribery: the José Callejón experiment last week was a failure, and none of Dušan Vlahović, Christian Kouamé, or Patrick Cutrone have impressed either; this one’s more of a roulette of sadness.

If you don’t know what to expect from Fiorentina at this point, consider yourself lucky. If Parma try to control the game, the Viola will bunker in and try to hit on the break through direct passes. If Parma sit back a bit more (the likelier outcome), Fiorentina will pass the ball to Ribery and hope he can dribble past half a dozen defenders and pick a pass. We may see occasional forays down the flanks from the wingbacks and the odd Gaetano Castrovilli burst through the lines, but these guys don’t seem to have any idea what they’re doing.

Possible lineups

Bonaventura or Pulgar, Vlahović or Callejón or Kouamé; Pezzella or Gagliolo, Karamoh or Inglese

How to watch

TV: If you’ve got RAI, now’s the time to fire it up. Check the full international television 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

This is the battle of the very moveable force versus the easily stoppable object, isn’t it? Fiorentina have conceded at least twice in their past 5 league matches, and the unfamiliarity in the backline will likely leave some gaps for the pacy Parma forwards to exploit; expect a plenty of chances through the channels. Conversely, Fiorentina will probably win a fair number of set pieces, from which the Gialloblu have already conceded 4 goals this year. The best bet here may be for a red card, as it’ll likely wind up being a war of attrition in the middle. I don’t see Parma sustaining their form from last week and do see Fiorentina perking up a bit, so let’s call it a very sloppy 2-3 win for the visitors, with goals from Castrovilli, Kurtić, Karamoh, Bonaventura, and Kouamé.

Forza Viola!