Fiorentina leave the Franchi after earning a good three points over Torino for their first home win since January and head to Milan to take on a reeling but dangerous Inter Milan. In their 177 meetings (their first was in the old Divisione Nazionale in 1928), the Viola hold a record of W49 D56 L72, including a mark of W4 D3 L3 over their last 10 meetings. They haven’t won at the San Siro against the Nerazzurri since 2015 (behind a Nikola Kalinić hat trick, no less). In the reverse fixture, Fiorentina snatched a point after Dušan Vlahović turned into Diego Maradona, while the Coppa Italia fixture resulted in a gallant but deserved defeat.
The match will be played on Wednesday, 7 July 2020, at 12:45 GMT/3:45 PM EST, at the Stadio San Siro in Milan. Anyone who’s betting on another hot summer evening is dead on the money, with the added benefit of some rain maybe starting in the second half, so it’ll probably be like playing while wearing a soggy wool blanket out there.
It’s been a bit of a rocky run since the restart for the Nerrazzuri with draws against Sassuolo, Hellas Verona, and AS Roma and a shock defeat defeat at home to Bologna meaning they’ve dropped 6 points in 9 games. As of this article being published, they’re in second in Serie A and trail Juventus by 5 points, but that could change after the Juvenuts take on 3rd-place Lazio, who trail Inter by a point. At the very least, they’ve secured the Champions League for next year, but a Juve win will pretty much guarantee the title stays in Turin.
Manager Antonio Conte has been his usual whiny self of late, including a tirade about refereeing that could see Fiorentina bear the brunt of the inevitable bounce-back calls. He’ll likely trot out the usual 3-4-1-2 with Romelu Lukaku and Christian Eriksen returning to the XI, while ex-Viola players Matías Vecino, Borja Valero, and Cristiano Biraghi may feature as well. Either way, though, you know that Conte is going to have geed up his squad after it took a comically bad error by Leonardo Spinazzola for them to snatch a point against Roma on Sunday, so expect to see plenty of desire from the hosts.
Everyone knows what to expect from a Conte team by now; surprise isn’t the problem so much as stopping the inevitable. Lukaku and Lautaro Martínez form a devastating pair up front, particularly when allowed to link up in the channels, so minimizing space between the lines and playing deep should be the tactic. Preventing Eriksen from pulling the strings is also crucial; expect the Viola to try and funnel everything out to the wings and hope that the back line and Terracciano can dig in and hold firm against a stream of crosses. It’s not much, but it could be enough.
Having mathematically secured salvation a full 4 fixtures earlier than last year (and yes, writing that hurt me quite a bit), Fiorentina are officially a mid-table side, sitting 12th with 42 points. The real question for the team is what to do in these next 4 games: we could see it sleepwalk through to the end of this bizarre season, make a push to finish in the top half, or go buck wild and experiment with some new players and tactics ahead of next year.
Manager Giuseppe Iachini will likely be without GK Bartłomiej Drągowski (back), so expect Pietro Terracciano to start in goal. Patrick Cutrone’s searing (4 goals and an assist in July) should see him return to the XI with Alfred Duncan, and LM Dalbert may be healthy enough to go as well. The 3-5-2 that’s brought the best out of this team should remain the default format, especially against a team as dangerous as Inter, so don’t expect any big tweaks in that department.
Inter have struggled with focus more than anything of late, as evidenced by both goals conceded against Roma, so looking to hit quickly on the counter seems like the best way to get after them. With Franck Ribery and Gaetano Castrovilli carrying the ball through the lines, expect attacking free kicks to be a major point of emphasis when that pair inevitably get hacked down. Crossing seems rather pointless against the Inter back three, so low balls and through balls are a wiser choice, especially if it means isolating Federico Chiesa against a single defender.
How to watch
TV: There’s a chance that it’s on BeIn depending on where you are, but you’re likely going to stream this one. 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 one is genuinely tough to predict. Fiorentina are playing with a lot of belief right now and have built up some momentum after going undefeated in their last 5, and it feels like Iachini’s finally figured out how to get the most from his players. Inter, on the other hand, are struggling a bit, but remain a better team in terms of pure talent. I’ll go with a 1-1 draw featuring a surprise opener from Cutrone, leading the Viola to bunker back until Martínez equalizes, with the game then featuring Inter controlling things with Fiorentina sporadically threatening on the counter. I wouldn’t be that surprised, though, if the Nerazzurri came out and positively shelled the good guys either, though.