After spending the past week stewing on an outrageously flat performance at Venezia, Fiorentina will hope to rediscover their form against lowly Cagliari. In 84 previous meetings, the Viola hold a W35 D24 L25 edge, including a W4 D3 L3 mark over their past 10 meetings. This fixture last year ended in a shameful biscotto.
The referee for this one is 36-year-old Antonio Rapuano of Rimini. In 3 Serie A matches this year, he’s handed out 17 yellow cards, 3 red cards, and 2 penalties, which is quite the bombastic performance. This will be just his 9th ever Serie A game, none of which have featured Fiorentina.
The match will be played on Sunday, 24 October 2021, at 1:00 PM GMT/9:00 AM EST, at the Stadio Artemio Franchi in beautiful Firenze. The forecast calls for a slightly blustery but nonetheless gorgeous autumn day, with a bit of cloud cover and no chance of rain despite some clouds sweeping by. You couldn’t ask for a better stage.
With 6 points from their past 5 matches, Fiorentina have plummeted all the way to 9th place with 12 points. With Lazio (on Wednesday), Juventus, and AC Milan looming in the next 4 fixtures, the Viola will be desperate to grab a win here in order to keep the early-season dream of European qualification alive.
Manager Vincenzo Italiano won’t have DM Erick Pulgar (ankle) or RW Riccardo Sottil (suspended), but might get GK Bartłomiej Drągowski (thigh) and CM Gaetano Castrovilli (ribs) back; they’re both racing to get healthy in time for kickoff and are training again. Lucas Martínez Quarta, Lucas Torreira, and Nicolás González should all return to the XI, while José Callejón will likely continue acting as an anchor on the right wing.
The plus side is that Cagliari aren’t likely to press as hard as Venezia did. They tend to sit deep in two banks of four, trying to deny space between the lines and force everything to the wings. González is going to be even more key than usual, given who’s going to be at rightback for the visitors, but Torreira and Jack Bonaventura may be the most important players in terms of controlling the tempo and creating chances.
After a miserable start to the season, Cagliari are starting to turn things around a bit. They notched their first win of the campaign last time out, handily dispatching Sampdoria. However, they’re nowhere near out of the woods: with just 6 points so far, they’re in 18th place and look set for a season-long battle against relegation. They’ve also got AS Roma on Wednesday, which could lead to a bit more rotation than we’re used to.
Manager Walter Mazzarri won’t have CM Marko Rog (knee), CB Sebastian Walukiewicz (thigh), and our old buddy LB Dalbert (knee), while CB Diego Godín (knee) might miss out as well, which could force Mazzarri to go three at the back to cope. That’ll leave our old buddy Martín Cáceres (who scored against Samp last week) in defense, with Alessandro Deiola coming in to add an extra body in the middle of the park.
Cagliari, as you might expect, like to sit deep and play on the break. The emphasis is definitely on throwing bodies forward to support the front two, who will drift all across the pitch looking to combine with each other rather than sitting in the middle and battling the centerbacks. Don’t expect the Rossoblu to spend much time keeping the ball, because they’re going to lob it long every chance they get.
How to watch
TV: Probably not, but check the full international television listings if you want.
Online: Here is your list of safe, reliable, and legal streams.
Ted’s Memorial Blind Guess Department
Fiorentina are massive favorites here in the betting houses, and it’s not hard to see why. Despite the hiccup last week, this team has played pretty well and enjoys a significant talent advantage over Cagliari, who’ve been so bad that they’ve already gotten a manager sacked this year and are among the favorites for relegation this year.
I’m calling it a 2-0 win as the Viola snap back with a vengeance. Dušan Vlahović should get back on the scoresheet against a slightly makeshift defense, while González is likely to feast against Cáceres as well. The hosts should dominate possession and territory throughout, allowing few opportunities and displaying the sort of dominance you’d expect them to exert over a lesser opponent.