Having resumed Serie A play with a wet fart of a performance against Brescia on Monday, Fiorentina get a much tougher test in a trip to Rome and a fixture against Lazio. In 156 meetings dating back to 1928’s Divisione Nazionale, the Viola are W51 D43 L62. Over their last 10 matches, the Viola are just W2 D2 L6, including a 1-2 win in the reverse fixture back in October. The Viola haven’t tasted victory away to Lazio since 2007, when some Giampaolo Pazzini shithouse magic led the Cesare Prandelli-coached squad to a win over its Delio Rossi-coached opponent.
We’ll update this piece with referee information when it’s released; the league has been mighty slow to let us know who’s handling which matches, which isn’t frustrating enough to make me want to tear my hair out.
The match will be played on Saturday, 27 June 2020, at 7:45 PM GMT/3:45 PM EST at the Stadio Olimpico in Rome. The forecast calls for a blisteringly hot day and the temperatures will still be above 27C/82F, so another game of uneven tempos seems likely. We could also see a cooling break in each half.
It’s been a heck of a season for the Aquile, who sit 4 points behind capolista Juventus with a game in hand. They’ve pushed the leaders all the way so far and seem to be in a heck of a run of form despite losing a barn-burner at Atalanta on Wednesday, having not lost in Serie A since September until then and having already hefted the Supercoppa with a win over Juve in December. However, having coughed up that 2-0 lead against la Dea, the question is whether the squad will be more exhausted than it is furious.
Manager Simone Inzaghi has done a heck of a job this year; his side have scored the second most goals in the division (60) and conceded the second fewest (23). His setup hasn’t varied from a 3-5-1-1 that’s designed to put Ciro Immobile in positions to score, which the striker has done at an alarming rate. Backed by Joaquín Correa or Felipe Caicedo (another 15 goals between them) and with Luis Alberto pulling the strings (13 assists), as well as Sergej Milinković-Savić buzzing around, the attack is devastating.
While the Biancocelesti can play very a very direct brand of football when necessary by using the forwards’ pace in behind or Milinković-Savić’s size to win aerial balls, they prefer to move the ball quickly on the ground through the midfield. The top priorities will be sticking close to Immobile and Luis Alberto, which means that Germán Pezzella and Nikola Milenković will have to be very alert for the former’s movement, while Erick Pulgar and Alfred Duncan will probably try to stick very tight to the latter. Otherwise, expect a much lower block than we saw against Brescia and a lot more long punts up the pitch to deny the Aquile any chance to counterpress and run at a disorganized defense. What we’re saying is that this is the sort of match in which the Viola will suffer.
Monday’s horror show against the Rondinelle means that Fiorentina have dropped a spot to 14th with 31 points, even with Torino but behind on the basis of the the defeat in Turin. 6 points from the past 5 matches, including draws against Udinese and Brescia, means that it’s getting a bit desperate, especially since the team is only 6 points above Lecce in the final relegation spot. It’s not quite a scrap to avoid the drop yet, but things are moving that way.
On the plus side (maybe?), manager Giuseppe Iachini has been in many a relegation battle. However, he’s rarely had to generate a result against an in-form Scudetto contender while missing Federico Chiesa and Martín Cáceres through suspension, and will himself be absent after his sending off against Brescia. That means that assistant boss Giuseppe Carrillo will be on the touchline. The real question is what shape the temporary boss will use, the new usual 3-5-2 or the uneven but promising 4-3-3. Most of that likely counts on how ready Franck Ribery is to run.
Fiorentina will likely defend deep to negate Immobile’s threat in behind. That means that it’ll probably be a very counterattacking setup, with Gaetano Castrovilli’s ability to burst past a marker and carry the ball through the lines the primary outlet. The pace and dribbling of Riccardo Sottil, should he get the start, could also be crucial. With big roles likely for reserves like Sottil, Milan Badelj, Patrick Cutrone, and maybe even Marco Benassi or Kevin Agudelo, the focus will likely be less on passing combinations and more on direct passing to bypass Lazio’s excellent midfield pressure. Basically, we’re going to see a shining example of BeppeBall.
How to watch
TV: RAI looks like a decent shout. Full international television listings are 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
How are we feeling about this? Not great, Bob. Lazio, even if they have to pull some of their regulars early for rest, have lots of quality, a need to win in order to keep a scudetto hope alive, and a team that’ll be extra ready to dole out some fury after letting a 2 goal lead slip. Were this anywhere but TMBGD, I’d say that we’re looking at a very big number to a very little number. Because this is the TMBGD, I’ll say a 1-1 draw, with Immobile getting one and Cutrone the other in a match that Lazio absolutely dominate in terms of possession, territory, and chances.