After having their season unceremoniously cut off by the FIGC last year, your Champions League competitor Fiorentina Femminile kick off the new season against some familiar faces with Inter Milan, who slumped to a disappointing mid-table finish last year. The Viola dumptrucked the Nerazzurre 4-0 last year behind a Tatiana Bonetti hat trick.
The match will be played on Saturday, 22 August 2020, at 6:45 PM GMT/2:45 PM EST, at the Stadio Artemio Franchi in Florence. The forecast calls for a scorching day under a relentless sun without a cloud in the sky, which is about what you’d expect from a late August day in Tuscany but won’t make the heat any less brutal.
This feels like the second generation for Fiorentina Femmenile. After changing the name from Fiorentina Women’s and letting go club legend Alia Guagni as well as standouts Ilaria Mauro, Davina Philtjens, Alice Parisi, and Laura Agard, the club has clearly moved onto a new cycle and will desperately want all 3 points to inaugurate it; the 3-0 friendly win over San Marino was nice and all, but a triumph in the first competitive fixture means a lot more.
Manager Antonio Cincotta should have his full squad to draw from, so it should be fascinating to see if he throws the new arrivals right into the mixer or eases them in. We’d bank on the former, given their quality, but we could also see some major tactical tweaks as compared to last season. The main goal threat will be Bonetti, of course, as she finished last year second in the capocannoniere standings, but Cincotta will have to choose between a fully-healthy Lana Clelland and former top scorer Daniela Sabbatino to partner her up front.
Even with some tweaks, this is a Cincotta side. That means that they’ll defend deep and play direct, often trying to get the strikers to connect in the channels. The real interest comes from the additions of Claudia Neto and Tessel Middag, who provide more creativity and ball carrying in central midfield than this team has ever had. That could mean we’ll see a more possession-oriented team than usual, but the expectation is still for some heavy metal football.
A lot of us expected big things from il Biscione last year, its first in the top flight, after gaining promotion from Serie B by running away with the title. Instead, the team spluttered to a 7th-place finish. While that might seem like a pretty good result for a team that had just been promoted, the expectations were a lot higher for an outfit with the Zhang’s limitless funds behind it.
Manager Attilio Sorbi will also have his full squad to choose from. He vacillated between a 4-3-3 and a 4-2-2 last year and, given the new arrivals, there’s no real knowing which he’ll prefer this year until we see. Regardless, though, Mauro will figure prominently up top—and will doubtless be looking for a goal dell’ex—while new signing Kathellen had a fantastic World Cup for Brazil last year and looks to be one of the best young defenders around.
Mauro’s bread and butter is getting in behind and feasting on crosses and cutbacks, so expect some pretty direct play from the Nerazzurre. They’ll likely focus on pressuring the Viola midfield rather than controlling play themselves and will want to break in behind. If Fiorentina opt for a high line in an effort to control play, Mauro will likely target Louise Quinn, who’s not the fastest, and spend a lot of time trying to force the Irish international into footraces.
How to watch
TV: If you’re in Italy, it’ll be on Sky, which is rad. If you’re not in Italy, it won’t be on TV, which is not as rad.
Online: Given the new TV deal, it’s unclear if the club will be streaming it on the website or on Facebook, and nobody seems to know for sure; guess we’ll find out on the day of.
Ted’s Memorial Blind Guess Department
With so many new faces on both sides, this one is genuinely tough to predict. That said, Fiorentina should have more talent on the field from front to back and should control the pace pretty effectively as the visitors play almost entirely on the break. We’ll call it a competitive 3-1 win, with Bonetti netting the first, Sabatino the second, and Clelland the third; Mauro, of course, will pull one back against her former side.