Fresh off yet another refereeing catastrophe that cost them a point against AS Roma, Fiorentina return to the friendly confines of Firenze for their last home game of the season. Their opponent is Bologna, meaning that the Derby dell’Appennino will close down the Franchi’s season. In their 147 competitive meetings dating back to 1928, the Viola hold a W56 D48 L43 record against the Felsinei, including an 11-match unbeaten run. Their last 3 meetings, though, have ended with draws, including a 1-1 in the reverse fixture that was Iachini’s first in charge. It’s also worth mentioning (if only to jinx everything beyond belief), that Fiorentina haven’t lost at home to Bologna since 2010.
The match will be played on Wednesday, 29 July 2020, at 7:45 PM GMT/3:45 PM EST, at the Stadio Artemio Franchi in Florence. The forecast calls for a pleasantly cloudy day with a cooling breeze, and that’s obviously a lie because it’s late August in Tuscany, which means that these guys will basically be playing in an oven set to broil.
With just two games left, Fiorentina are only playing for pride at this point. 12th place on 43 points is respectable enough, but the way the team has played to arrive at this point doesn’t exactly get the blood pounding. Winning out, though, could see them end up in the top half of the table, which would be a pretty solid accomplishment and would provide a nice springboard for next year, when some reinforcements should arrive via the transfer market.
Giuseppe Iachini may have GK Bartłomiej Drągowski (back) available after a couple of weeks’ absence, but the bigger news is the return of CM Gaetano Castrovilli from suspension. Patrick Cutrone should start up top as he and Christian Kouamé have alternated in the striking role for the past two weeks. Dalbert seems to be fit, so the Brazilian should slot in on the left. The real question, though, will be if Beppe can figure out a way to get Federico Chiesa involved farther forward.
As you’d expect from a Mihajlović team, this group is compact and physical on the back foot. They’re happy to concede space out wide in order to pack the middle and make themselves difficult to play through, so Fiorentina’s tendency to attack down the wings should be the path forward. This team wins the 3rd-most aerial duels in the league, so keeping the ball on the carpet would be wise. That said, they also lead Serie A in bookings, so it’s clear that they struggle against individual skill; Chiesa, Castrovilli, and Franck Ribery are likely to be kicked remorselessly, and the Viola will have to take advantage.
For a team that sits in a boring 10th place on 46 with a -9 goal difference, it’s been a pretty wild year for the Veltri, who rose as high as 2nd in the table and boast the scalps of AS Roma and Inter Milan. They’ve rolled out a surprisingly good attack and have a roster full of really promising young talent.
Manager Siniša Mihajlović (not too popular around these parts for his stint in charge of Fiorentina) has dealt with leukemia all year and missed as little time as possible, which is entirely in character for him. He does face a selection conundrum of sorts for this one, with CB Mattia Bani (calf), RB Takehiro Tomiyasu (hamstring), CM Jerdy Schouten (hamstring), and CF Rodrigo Palacio (suspension) all unavailable. With the likes of Riccardo Orsolini and Mussa Barrow, though, there are still plenty of threats in this team.
The danger here is the pace and skill up front. Orsolini’s very good cutting inside from the right and Barrow’s been superb in the second half of the season, notching 9 goals and 3 assists since January. With bruising target man Federico Santander and steady veteran Nicola Sansone joining young guns Andreas Skov Olsen and Mussa Juwara, there are a lot of diverse skillsets in this group. Denying them space in behind is probably the top priority, so expect to see a deep defensive line from the Viola and a midfield that’s willing to let the likes of Gary Medel keep the ball for as long as he wants.
How to watch
TV: ESPN2 in the US will have it, but most everyone else will have to watch online. Check the full international television listings here if you want confirmation.
Online: Here is your list of safe, reliable, and legal streams.
Ted’s Memorial Blind Guess Department
There’s been no shortage of desire from the Viola of late and they’ve really put everything on the line for Beppe, so I’m not too worried about the lack of motivation. Assuming that Iachini can figure out a way to get Chiesa the ball in decent places, Fiorentina should threaten a defense that often seems to lose focus. As they’ve kept clean sheets in 6 of their last 7 home matches, it seems like a pretty good bet that the good guys will stop this superb young Bologna attack and get one on the other end—Cutrone’s excellent form means he’s the likeliest candidate. It’ll probably a low-scoring, scruffy affair with a lot of fouls and a lot of cards that reflects the mid-table, hard-nosed nature of the two managers.