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Fiorentina vs Sassuolo: Preview

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Things are starting to look a bit desperate for the Viola, and a dangerous Neroverdi outfit isn’t the easiest solution.

US Sassuolo v ACF Fiorentina - Serie A
More of this, please.
Photo by Giuseppe Bellini/Getty Images

Fiorentina fans have dealt with two supremely frustrating matches since the restart and now get a chance to see their team finally get a win against Sassuolo. In the reverse fixture, Fiorentina came from behind to take a 1-2 win that featured a formation change to earn the points. In their last 13 meetings in league play, the Viola hold a W6 4D L3 record, although it’s worth noting that they lost this one in Florence last year.

The match will be played on Wednesday, 1 July 2020, at 7:45 PM GMT/3:45 PM EST, at the Stadio Artemio Franchi in Florence. The forecast calls for a very warm Tuscan day, but at least there will be some cloud cover and breeze. Still, the heat presages another rough 90 minutes for a bunch of dudes running around like crazy.

Fiorentina

Earning just a point from clashes with Brescia and Lazio hasn’t hampered Fiorentina’s position in the table too much—with 31 points, they’re 14th—but sitting just 6 points above Lecce in the final relegation place is definitely not where you want to be. It’s a far cry from where this team hoped to end up in Rocco Commisso’s first year as owner, demonstrating that years of moribundity take longer to reverse than just a few months of enthusiasm.

Manager Giuseppe Iachini will at least be back in the dugout after serving a suspension against Lazio, and he’ll have Federico Chiesa back as well, although Martín Cáceres and Dušan Vlahović will be suspended. The real question is if he’ll try the 4-3-3 that looked promising but flawed against Brescia or roll with his usual 5-3-2. That will inform a lot of the personnel decisions, as will the fitness of Franck Ribery, who probably can’t be relied on for 80+ minutes in the third match in nine days. Expect Alfred Duncan and Erick Pulgar to return in midfield as well.

Given that Sassuolo boasts a porous defense, expect the Viola to focus on quick breaks from high turnovers. That should necessitate a lot of pressing up high, which could in turn mean that the forwards need a lot of rotation. Still, it’s hard not to see Chiesa feasting on a defense that’s prone to turning the ball over in dangerous spots; there should be plenty of space for the midfield to find him and his teammates in good areas, so the quality of the finishing will probably be the biggest factor here.

Sassuolo

It’s been a solidly midtable season for Sassuolo, who sit 12th in the league with 34 points. They’ve produced a pair of 3-3 draws since the restart against some solid teams in Inter Milan and Hellas Verona, which highlights both their attacking quality and their defensive shortcomings. They’ve also scored half of those goals after the 80th minute, so Fiorentina will have to maintain focus to contain them and get a result.

Manager Roberto de Zerbi (who just signed an extension and is thus not coming to Florence) will be without defenders Filippo Romagna and Jeremy Toljan, but that shouldn’t impact him too much. He’s favored a 4-2-3-1 of late and may start Domenico Berardi on the bench, but we know more or less what to expect from his teams: quick, vertical passing combinations, wingers cutting in, and a general understanding of the attacking moves.

The top priority will be sticking tight to the wingers and minimizing space between the lines, as those are the areas where the Neroverdi thrive. While high pressing may create chances at the other end, Beppe’s intrinsic nature means that he’ll probably order his charges to mostly sit deep and compact to deny space to the opposition instead. Basically, expect further Beppeball.

Possible lineups

Venuti or Lirola, Ribery or Igor; Obiang or Magnanelli, Caputo or Đuričić
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How to watch

TV: The short answer is no, but feel free to check the full international television listings here if you don’t believe me.

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 could wind up being a very fun game for the neutral but probably one that’ll make Viola fans very nervous indeed. That said, it’s doubtful that the Sassuolo defense can keep a rested and motivated Chiesa at bay for 90 minutes, so that’s a massive advantage for the hosts. Given the high-scoring nature of the Neroverdi, I’ll call this one a 3-2 win for Fiorentina, with a Chiesa brace and a Nikola Milenković header just enough to overcome goals from Defrel, Boga, and Berardi.

Forza Viola!