After battering Salernitana at the weekend, Fiorentina stay put at the Franchi to take on Benevento in the Coppa Italia. They haven’t met in the competition before, although they’ve played four times before in Serie A. In those matchups, the Viola have won three and lost one, the most recent of which being a 4-1 away win where Dušan Vlahović scored a hattrick.
The referee for this one is Luca Zufferli. He’s refereed five Serie B matches and one Coppa match this season, that being Ternana’s wild 5-4 win over Bologna. He’s given out 33 yellow cards and 8 penalties and those 6 matches, so a Viola penalty seems like a good bet.
The match will be played Wednesday, 15 December 2021, at 3:00 PM EST/8:00 PM GMTat the Stadio Artemio Franchi in beautiful Firenze. The forecast calls for 6° C / 42°F, so you’ll want to bring a jacket if you’ll be in attendance.
The Viola handled Cosenza 4-0 on August 13 in the first round of the competition, and are flying high in 5th place in Serie A. The biggest question in this one is how much Vicenzo Italiano rests his starters to plan ahead for Sassuolo at the weekend. This one really comes down to how much he prioritizes the Coppa. Fiorentina is potentially just five wins away from a guaranteed spot in Europe, but they’d have to go through three of last season’s top eight to do that. Should they win this match, Fiorentina would play Napoli.
We do know Italiano will stick with his 4-3-3, and one presumable starter (Riccardo Saponara) will be out as per the squad list released earlier today. Other notable absences are Gaetano Castrovilli and Bartłomiej Drągowski, both of whom are looking to return before the winter break. Players who I imagine will start are Igor and Lorenzo Venuti, both of whom have played well this season but have not been regular starters. I’d also bet on Youssef Maleh and Riccardo Sottil playing from the beginning as young players who could use the minutes.
Still, there are many question marks. Will Antonio Rosati make his first appearance of his new spell? Will Cristiano Biraghi and Lucas Torreira be rested? Will Aleksandr Kokorin actually play? All that remains to be seen.
Benevento started strong in Serie A last season but was woeful down the stretch, leading to their second-ever relegation from Serie A. To be fair, they’ve only played two seasons in the top flight, but invested heavily in the summer of 2020 and should have done better. Filippo Inzaghi is out as manager of that side, and Fabio Caserta has stepped in. He’s a relatively unknown coach with little experience, but what experience he has is successful. He helped Perugia steamroll Serie C last season to earn a promotion back to Serie B, and was hired by Benevento shortly thereafter.
I’d expect Benevento to go into this one with a full-strength lineup, as this is a great opportunity for both the players and Caserta alike to showcase their talent. The squad itself is in good form right now, having won four in a row to take them to 4th place in Serie B. That puts them in the playoff zone and only two points behind automatic promotion.
Their best player is Italian-Peruvian striker Gianluca Lapadula, who’s already scored 10 goals and added 4 assists this season. I expect him to be in Serie A next season regardless of Benevento’s place in the table. Several other members of the supporting cast are familiar, such as Riccardo Improta and Roberto Insigne, who form maybe the best tridente in Serie B. Kamil Glik and Gaetano Letizia are also still around, although the latter won’t feature due to injury.
The Stregoni haven’t faced an opponent as talented as the Viola this season, so how they play remains to be seen. From their matches so far this season, expect them to feed Lapudula as much as possible from the wings on the break. Insigne, Importa, and Atalanta loanee Salvatore Elia (who was with Caserta at Perugia last year), will play the key roles here, attempting to drive directly at the Viola’s wingbacks.
How to watch
TV: Probably not, but feel free to check the full international television listings.
Online: Here is your list of safe, reliable, and legal streams. If you’re in the US, remember that Paramount+ has rights to the Coppa and will be broadcasting it.
When researching Benevento, I was surprised by how much talent they managed to retain and I expect them to be back in Serie A next season. This really could be a trap game for the Viola, as the Stregoni are a better team than Salernitana and we will be playing a worse team.
Still, I expect the good guys to get the win here, but have it be a bit closer than most expect. I’ll give a 2-1 victory to the Viola, with Sottil and Vlahović scoring in response to a Lapudula goal.