Fresh off a real crotch-punch of a loss at Inter Milan, Fiorentina return to the friendly, crumbling confines of the Franchi to take on Sampdoria. In their 133 previous meetings dating back to 1946, the Viola own a W48 D49 L36 record, including a mark of W3 D5 L2 over their last 10, although the good guys won both matches last year, including a 2-1 win at home that broke an 18-match winless streak.
The match will be played on Friday, 2 October 2020, at 6:45 PM GMT/2:45 PM EST at the Stadio Artemio Franchi in Firenze. The forecast calls for a grey day and there’s a good chance that those clouds will drop a fair amount of rain on things too, but at least it won’t be too hot.
With a win and a loss from their first two games, it feels like business as usual for Fiorentina. On the other hand, a victory here could start propelling them upwards, especially as there were some really promising moments against the Nerazzurri last week. The caveat, of course, is that DS Daniele Pradè loves nothing more than to shake up the squad just before the window closes, so we could see some chopping and changing at the last minute that’ll throw everything into chaos.
Manager Giuseppe Iachini should welcome back CB Germán Pezzella (ankle), while CM Erick Pulgar (illness) is probably not fit yet. The real questions will come in the midfield; Beppe could shift Sofyan Amrabat into a higher role and use Alfred Duncan as the holder, but he could try the same approach as against Inter, which would mean Giacomo Bonaventura would start.
Especially with Pezzella’s possible return, Fiorentina’s best route to goal may well be set pieces; Samp have already conceded three goals from dead ball situations. They’ve also left themselves open to counterattacks by pushing too many men up the pitch, so look for the Viola to invite them into their own half before breaking quickly, or alternatively trying to press high up and attack a short field. With a numerical advantage in the middle, Iachini’s men will also probably try to get runners forward to surprise the Blucerchiati back line. Gaetano Castrovilli is the obvious suspect here, having scored in both games so far, but Bonaventura would be handy in a similar role.
Things have gotten off to about as poor a start as they could for the Blucerchiati. After getting shelled 3-0 at Juventus, they lost their home opener 2-3 to newly-promoted Benevento. Worse than the results is that they’ve looked disinterested and out of ideas despite some high-profile signings in the attack (Antonio Candreva, Keita Baldé, Mikkel Damsgard).
Manager Claudio Ranieri may be ready to shake some things up, so it could be tough to predict his XI, although he’ll likely set out his usual 4-4-2. The dangerman, as always, is the ageless Fabio Quagliarella, who’s been playing almost as a 10 at times this year, looking to drop in and link play. We could see Baldé make his debut in this one as well, but that Manolo Gabbiadini or Emiliano Bonazzoli will likely get the start.
Samp’s attack seems largely predicated on getting the ball wide and crossing it (their 21 crosses per game is 4th-most in the league), especially with Candreva on the right. Jakub Jankto tucks in almost as a 10 on the other wing to allow the leftback forward. As you’d expect from a Ranieri team, the Ligurians don’t really care about having the ball (averaging 39% possession) and focus on quick counters instead, so this wing-based approach fits the philosophy, even if the results aren’t really coming around.
How to watch
TV: Probably not, but check the full international television listings here to be certain.
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Ted’s Memorial Blind Guess Department
While this could be a trap game for Fiorentina, they likely need at least 7 points from their next 3 matches to remain on track for Europe and should be very focused. Samp, on the other hand, look awful right now and haven’t addressed last year’s leaky defense; they’ve conceded at least 2 goals in 6 of their last 7 and are clearly struggling. That’s why I’m calling it a 2-0 win for the Viola, with goals from Christian Kouamé and Nikola Milenković highlighting a controlled performance.