Following a very promising home win over a listless Torino, Fiorentina hit the road north and west to the Giuseppe Meazza, where Inter Milan await. This fixture resulted in a scoreless draw last year behind an absolute masterclass from Pietro Terracciano. Overall, these two have met 178 times, going back to 1928, with the Viola holding a W49 D57 L72 mark in those games. Over their last 10, that rises to a much more palatable W3 D4 L3, though.
The referee for this one is a verified slakas favorite: 44-year-old Gianpaolo Calvarese of Teramo. He’s got a reputation for being slow to go to the book, so expect some very physical challenges. Under his watch, Fiorentina are W5 D6 L4. Last we saw him was the 1-1 draw against AC Milan which featured a Dalbert red card and a (pretty soft) late penalty to hand the Viola a draw, about which Rossoneri fans are still crying as if they’d never had a tough decision go against them.
The match will be played on Saturday, 26 September 2020, at 7:45 PM GMT/2:45 PM EST, at the Stadio San Siro in Milan. The forecast calls for just about as perfect a day as you could want for a match, with some cool autumn breezes finally cracking through the iron grip of the Italian summer. The pitch may be pretty wet, though, as it’s likely to pour for a couple of days before kickoff.
The Nerazzuri haven’t played a game yet because Serie A never makes the simple choice when it could make the complicated one. However, this feels like the season that Inter has to win the Scudetto: they’ve brought in loads of veteran talent, often at the expense of the future, and are frothing at the mouth to break the Juventus strangehold on Serie A. With rookie coach Andrea Pirlo ensconced in Turin, this may be their best chance to do so.
Manager Antonio Conte will be without CB Stefan de Vrij (suspension) and CM Matías Vecino (knee), so at least he has something to complain about. He’ll set out his usual 3-5-2, likely featuring the terrifying partnership of Romelu Lukaku and Lautaro Martínez (who always gives the Viola a hard time) up top. The midfield is the real question area; you’d expect newly-signed Arturo Vidal to get the nod next to Marcelo Brozović and Nicolò Barella, but Christian Eriksen, Stefano Sensi, and Roberto Gagliardini are also options.
You generally know how a Conte team will attack you, but stopping it is a different matter entirely. Slowing down Achraf Hakimi will be crucial; the Moroccan’s threat in behind will likely pin Cristiano Biraghi deeper than we saw last week. Finding the correct depth for the defense will also be tricky, as the Inter forwards both have the pace to get in behind while offering a threat from crosses as well. To help protect Ceccherini, who’s not as good in the air as Pezzella, the back three will probably sit narrower out of possession, with the midfield trying to remain compact and deny the space between the lines in which Conte’s teams thrive.
The win over Torino showed lots of promise while also leaving room for improvement, but let’s be honest. The Granata look like a relegation candidate right now, so this week will likely be very different. Still, though, Fiorentina are in the European places right now, so things feel okay, and with a full off season under the same coach, they could finally have the continuity to make the big teams sweat this year.
Mister Giuseppe Iachini probably won’t have CB Germán Pezzella (ankle) or CM Erick Pulgar (illness), which makes things quite a bit trickier. Expect Federico Ceccherini to slot into the heart of the defense again—less than ideal against Lukaku and Martínez—while Sofyan Amrabat should make his Viola debut as well. The only real question is who will be the third midfielder: Giacomo Bonaventura’s experience could win out of Alfred Duncan’s solidity, but we’re hoping the Ghanaian wins out.
Without de Vrij, the best way to attack this defense might be to focus on slow, clumsy Andrea Ranocchia; Kouamé will dust him in a foot race and should win some fouls off him. Alternatively, Fiorentina could look to isolate Federico Chiesa against Ashley Young and Aleksandr Kolarov (combined age: 69 years) and hope he can create something. With Inter likely to dominate possession, expect a very counterattacking strategy from the visitors, with both long passes for Chiesa and Kouamé and lots of attempts to break from deep via the dribbling of Amrabat, Gaetano Castrovilli, and Franck Ribery. That could lead to a lot of set piece opportunities as well.
How to watch
TV: Give BeIn a shot, but you’re likely going to stream 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
Fiorentina could present the hosts with a difficult puzzle, as they possess enough quality in midfield and on the wings to be more press-resistant than most of Inter’s opponents. That said, the Nerazzurri are massive favorites in the betting houses for a reason, and that reason is that they’re very good. Combining their desperation to get three points in their season opener with Pezzella’s absence means that it’s hard to see a good result for the Viola. Realistically, a competitive 2-1 loss feels right, but because this is TMBGD, we’ll go for a 1-1, smash-and-grab result that leaves Conte pulling his hair out in clumps and sobbing.