Following a spectacular late collapse at Empoli in the Derby dell’Arno on Saturday, Fiorentina return to the Franchi in hopes of righting the ship against Sampdoria. In 135 previous meetings, the Viola hold a W48 D49 L38 edge, although that drops to W2 D4 L4 in their past 10 league meetings. The Blucerchiati won both fixtures last year, including a typically deflating 1-2 in Florence last year.
The referee for this one is 33-year-old Federico Dionisi of L’Aquila. In 2 Serie A games this year, he’s issued 9 yellow cards, 2 red cards, and 1 penalty. This will be just his 9th game in the top flight, but be warned: he brings a reputation for the dramatic intervention. He has handled a Viola match, too, although you may not want to remember the 3-3 draw at Bologna that witnessed Rodrigo Palacio hat trick in the year 2021.
The match will be played Tuesday, 30 November 2021, at 5:30 PM GMT/12:30 PM EST at the Stadio Artemio Franchi in beautiful Firenze. The forecast calls for a chilly evening, although at least the torrential downpour that marked the game just days prior will be long gone.
Despite shooting their toes off this weekend, Fiorentina somehow jumped up to 6th in the standings, which is, in case you were wondering, a European spot, although their 21 points are level with both Juventus and Lazio. They’ve only taken 6 points from their past 5 matches and need to accrue maximum points against lower-table sides if they’re going to maintain that lofty position. It’s also worth mentioning that they’re the only team in Europe besides Borussia Dortmund yet to draw in league play, which is pretty dang wild.
Manager Vincenzo Italiano will welcome Nicolás González back to the XI, although the absences of Erick Pulgar (ankle), Gaetano Castrovilli (thigh), and Marco Benassi (back) leave the engine room a bit light, and Pietro Terracciano will again fill in for Bartłomiej Drągowski (thigh) despite an error-laden showing on Saturday. The only question is at rightback, where Álvaro Odriozola and Lorenzo Venuti are vying for the start. It’ll be 4-3-3, but you already knew that.
Samp defend in two solid banks of four and, while they mostly sit in a low- to mid-block, are good at springing forward on the press at times to catch opponents off guard. They’re very good in the air, which means that playing through them is probably the way to go. As the leftback often gets forward, playing Nico on that side and having him attack that space could pay some major dividends. Otherwise, the team will rely on Riccardo Saponara to find the key, or just hope that Dušan Vlahović takes matters into his own hands a couple of times and decides to score.
It’s not quite the renaissance the Genoese outfit was hoping for after moving on from beloved grandpa Claudio Ranieri this summer. They’re in 15th with 16 points, 6 out of the drop zone and 6 away from Europe, so they’re about as midtable as you can be at this stage. They are building some momentum, though, having won a couple in a row, and look to be finding their stride.
Manager Roberto D’Aversa won’t have DM Albin Ekdal (suspended) or LW Mikkel Damsgaard (knee) but should still trot out his usual 4-4-2, with Fabio Quagliarella and Francesco Caputo expected to start up front as a pair of true number 9s who don’t do too much defensive work. The dangerman is Antonio Candreva (6 goals, 3 assists); he’s been playing out of his mind this year and will need special attention to make sure he doesn’t victimize the Viola as well.
D’Aversa’s pretty much kept Ranieri’s approach intact, which means that Samp are about as route one a side as you’ll find. They go long as often as anyone in Serie A and have hit the second most crosses, which makes sense when Candreva’s bombing them into Quags and Caputo. Leftback Tommaso Augello is a good crosser and likes to overlap, while ahead of him, Thorsby will in, looking to break to the edge of the box for a shot. Honestly, though, if you can stop Candreva, you’ll probably stop this team from doing all that much, as there’s more grit than creativity in the side.
How to watch
TV: Probably not, but feel free to check the full international television listings.
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Ted’s Memorial Blind Guess Department
Even after the hiccup against Empoli, Fiorentina are very heavy favorites right now. They’ve scored 3 or more goals in their past 3 home games and have looked very good in the friendly confines of the Franchi. Too, even though they sometimes dribble down their legs in games against recently promoted sides, there’s a reason they’re all the way up in 6th: they’re pretty good at soccer.
That’s why I’m calling it a 3-1 win for the good guys as they right the ship (at least until they have to go on the road again) and restore the good vibes. A Dušan smash, a Nico strike, and how about a thunderbastard from Alfred Duncan should do it, with known Viola slayer Quagliarella reducing the arrears in a game that Fiorentina pretty much run from start to finish despite the Sampdoria having a few nice counterattacks.