Fresh off a blistering 4-0 win over Inter Milan in the season opener, Fiorentina Femminile head south to take on Napoli for their first road game of the season. The match will be played on Sunday, 30 August 2020, at 6:45 PM GMT/2:45 PM GMT. The forecast calls for another hot, humid day, because that’s what you get in Naples in August.
Last year’s Serie B winners had a slight comedown of a first Serie A game, losing 0-1 to Pink Bari despite a strong performance. From the Neapolitan point of view, they dominated the game, creating more opportunities and controlling the ball, but were hard done by to concede an easy penalty; given that they were heavily favored coming in over a Bari outfit that only stayed up with 11 points, they likely deserved at least a point.
New manager Giuseppe Marino has only been in charge since the start of July and has 12 new players in his squad, so sorting out the first XI is still probably a work in process. While they’re not quite a possession-oriented team, they like to move the ball forward down the wings before working it back into the middle, either via cross or to reset and probe for a crease. 20-year-old striker Despoina Chatzinikolaou (alias Deppy) is a tricky dribbler and probably the most talented player, but also keep an eye on former Fiorentina winger Isotta Nocchi, who could draw a start this week after impressing off the bench.
Given the numerical advantage Fiorentina will enjoy in the middle, expect Napoli to really work the wide areas, trying to get Deppy and her attacking cohort in behind the Viola fullbacks when they push forward. That means that Louise Quinn and Alice Tortelli will need to be very attentive and communicate well to prevent Napoli from building in the channels. The combined forces of Tessel Middag and Greta Adami should be enough to keep the Azzurre from breaking through the middle all that often, and Daniela Sabatino’s expertise in triggering the high press could discomfit the opposing defense quite a bit; shutting down the channels has to be the top defensive priority.
It’s safe to say that, after a tumultuous off-season, Fiorentina have hit the ground running. The club wrapped up its initial cycle this summer, waving goodbye to foundational players from the past several years like Alia Guagni, Ilaria Mauro, Alice Parisi, Laura Agard, and Davina Philtjens; with stars like Daniela Sabatino, Claudia Neto, Tessel Middag, Louise Quinn, and Katja Schroffenegger arriving, this is a very new-look team.
Manager Antonio Cincotta has also altered his tactical approach from what we’ve seen. Gone is the direct, transition-focused 4-4-2 that required pace on the wings. Instead, he’s reshuffled his midfield into a diamond, packing the center of the pitch with quality and emphasizing short, one-touch moving through the middle before spreading play to the onrushing fullbacks. If Cincotta wants a slightly more defensive approach, he could opt for Janelle Cordia at rightback or Stephanie Breitner in midfield, while Martina Fusini could get the nod over Martina Zanoli at leftback.
The real question is how much the mister will shuffle his XI. Given that the Partenopei play a 4-3-3 shape and will likely look to play on the break, the template that he used against the Nerazzurre. Expect some rotation in the XI—this squad is too deep not use—but the quick passing approach through the middle should still be the primary approach. Expect a fair number of pops from distance as Napoli drop deep into their own box and the same forward push from the fullbacks.
How to watch
TV: No dice.
Online: Check the official Fiorentina website. As a heads up, you may need to click the flag in the upper left corner of the screen to Italian, then click on the Femminile tab. That should take you to the stream if it doesn’t pop up on its own.
Ted’s Memorial Blind Guess Department
Napoli are not your average recently-promoted team, given the resources they’ve poured into their debut Serie A team, but with so many new players and a new manager, they’re probably still a year away from really threatening the top of the table. Fiorentina have experienced similar personnel turnover but probably have too much for Napoli to overcome. That’s why we’re calling it a 2-0 win for the Viola, with Sabatino and Bonetti netting the goals as Fiorentina control the pace with their numerical and technical advantage in midfield.