Fresh off a desperately lucky point at the San Siro against Inter Milan, Fiorentina are back on the road. This time they’re going south to take on AS Roma. In their 183 meetings (the first was a 3-1 Viola win in 1931), the good guys are W57 D66 L63. Over their last 10 league meetings, that mark is just W2 D3 L5, including a 1-4 paddling in the reverse fixture that led to Vincenzo Montella’s sacking. Also of note: Fiorentina have won just twice at the Olimpico in Serie A since 1991, when a Gabriel Batistuta-inspired team took 3 points. Giuseppe Iachini, in fact, was in the XI for that game.
The match will be played on Sunday, 26 July 2020, at 5:30 PM GMT/1:30 PM EST, at the Stadio Olimpico in Rome. The capital tends to be blisteringly hot in the summer and this one will be no exception. With no clouds to block the sun and temperatures expected to still be around 32C/90F, it’ll be awfully hard to run.
With wins in 4 of their last 5 (and that one a last-gasp draw to Inter due to a Leonardo Spinazzola blunder), it’s safe to say that the Giallorossi are one of the form sides in Serie A. Their 61 points are good for 5th in the table; although there’s no chance that they can pip eternal rivals Lazio for 4th and the final Champions League spot, they’ll still want to win to ensure that they don’t have an arduous Europe League qualifying campaign, especially with Napoli outside the top six.
Manage Paulo Fonseca has recently changed shape to a 3-4-2-1 and it’s looked fantastic, especially going forward. That said, he’s got some serious injury problems, especially at the back: CB Roger Ibañez (thigh) and LW Cengiz Ünder (calf) are out, while CB Juan Jesus (hip), CB Federico Fazio (ankle), and RB Davide Santon (calf) are all doubtful. That means we could see a slightly fatigued lineup, although the sheer quality in the side means that it’s not too much of a concern for the Lupi.
As usual, the Romans will look to keep the ball ticking around the attacking third in an effort to find creases in a constantly-resetting defense. Lorenzo Pellegrini is the main creative hub and now has freedom to find pockets of space, so keeping an eye on him will be very important. Edin Džeko, of course, is the goalscorer; despite his occasional profligacy, he’s so good at getting in front of his man in the box, so the back line will have to remain focused and maybe lucky for 90 minutes to keep him out of the goal.
Now undefeated over their past 6 and sitting in 10th place (even on points with Bologna but leading in goal difference), Fiorentina are starting to look mildly competent on the back of a stingy defense, which has allowed just 3 goals over that stretch. While both Europe and relegation are mathematical impossibilities, this team badly needs results to end a wretched season on a good note; a result here would set things up nicely for a 9-game unbeaten run to close the year with just Bologna and SPAL left after this.
Manager Giuseppe Iachini will have to cope without CM Gaetano Castrovilli (suspension) and GK Bartłomiej Drągowski (back), while LM Dalbert (calf) can only play half an hour or so. That should mean that Alfred Duncan and Rachid Ghezzal start in midfield, while Christian Kouamé will probably get the nod up top. Most importantly, we should see Federico Chiesa return to the XI; he’ll probably be the key player for the visitors, especially if he can make some defensive contributions.
Roma will dominate the ball, so Fiorentina will sit deep and look to counter, as usual. The primary attacking outlet will probably be Chiesa, who should find space behind Spinazzola (excellent going forward but a bit suspect defensively), especially as he’ll be running at old man Aleksandr Kolarov. Without Castrovilli’s bursts from midfield, Ghezzal and Duncan will need to have really good games to provide a link with the forwards.
How to watch
TV: You might get it on BeIn, but odds are that you’ll be streaming this one. 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
As we’ve seen over the past couple of years, there’s always a bit of madness between these two. While Roma are certainly the better side right now, it wouldn’t be a shock if they suffered a bit of a letdown after crushing the life out of SPAL by a score of 1-6 on Wednesday. Therefore, I’m calling it a 1-1 draw despite the obvious Giallorossi dominance, with Džeko hitting for the hosts and Erick Pulgar slotting home a penalty won by Chiesa after some tempers boil over, leading to at least one sending off.