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Hellas Verona 1-1 Fiorentina: Player grades and 3 things we learned

It wasn’t perfect, but let’s zoom out and focus on the larger picture here. Because the larger picture is good.

Hellas Verona FC v ACF Fiorentina - Serie A Photo by Emmanuele Ciancaglini/Ciancaphoto Studio/Getty Images

Player grades

Pietro Terracciano—5: I’ve been one of the biggest advocates for Pietro and have even gone as far to say he’s the best back-up in the league. Today was his worst game of the season for sure. He was caught in no man’s land on the Lasagna goal and just didn’t seem as sure of himself as usual. Can’t always be on the top of your game so hoping the break helps him rediscover his form.

Lorenzo Venuti—5: Was given the captain’s armband in a shocking turn of events but didn’t really live up to it. Worked hard as always but never really seemed to win his 1-on-1 matchups. Replaced in the 70’ and that was definitely for the best. Game completely changed when Alvaro came in.

Igor—6.5: Another solid performance from the Brazilian, adding some good passing from the back. Definitely were some nervy moments but overall thought it was a solid shift. It’s always nice to have a playmaker at the back and his physical strength coupled Milenković’s mean they won’t be losing many battles.

Nikola Milenković—6.5: Probably should’ve been given the armband but that didn’t stop him form being the reliable force at the back we’ve come to expect. The Mountain was strong in the air and even had a decent chance to score that wrongfully went down as a goal kick instead of a corner.

Aleksa Terzić—6: Bit of a mixed bag from the Serbian today. Seemed to struggle a bit in the first half but then came alive (as did the rest of the team) after the 60th minute. Worked really well with Vlahović on the Castro goal and consistently provided an attacking threat down that right flank. Still leaves a bit do be desired defensively but he’s a solid back-up LB.

Alfred Duncan—6.5: Duncan is a lot like Amazon Prime in that you always know what to expect. He isn’t going to light the world on fire or bang in goals from distance, but you know exactly the type of dirty work to expect. He’ll do whatever the team needs and it’s those selfless qualities that allow the other midfielders to shine. Another solid performance from the Ghanaian.

Lucas Torreira—6: He was so good at Sassuolo that I think we all expected an equally strong performance this game. Unfortunately that wasn’t the case, but it was by no means a bad game. The Uruguayan continued to make that midfield tick by passing from deep or fighting for every lose ball. He’s got an incredible engine and will end up being the best Fiorentina signing of the season when it’s all said and done.

Giacomo Bonaventura—5.5: Jack didn’t play as great as usual and a lot of it had to do with what seemed to be a breathing problem. Hard to knock someone who was trying to brave through a respiratory issue, so won’t be too hard on him here. Prayers it’s nothing too serious!

Riccardo Sottil—5.5: As you can tell so far the theme of these grades are good, but not great performances. We’re probably a bit spoiled and seem to expect great performances game in and game out. Ricky was by no means poor, just lacked the sharpness needed to make plays in the final third. Didn’t seem to have the skills to win 1-v-1’s, but put in a few decent crosses. Overall was an okay night for the young Italian.

Dušan Vlahović—7: Surprise, surprise, the Serbian is the highest rated player once again. He didn’t get on the scoresheet but was absolutely instrumental in the Tanino equalizer. Held the ball up well all day long and set up teammates on more than one occasion to score. Probably could’ve had a goal himself, but it wasn’t to be today. He may be as good as gone but that hasn’t stopped him from giving his heart and soul every game. Very mature from the young Serb.

Nicolás González—6.5: Nico clearly watched the game tape from Sunday as his performance tonight was much better than we saw on Sunday. He’s like the Energizer bunny, bouncing around the field on the left side, right side, wherever the ball is. He combined a lot better with Dušan and even had a few decent looks on goal. He needed to improve after the last game and he did just that.

Gaetano Castrovilli—6.5: Came on for Jack at half-time and immediately made an impact. It’s easy to forget how good Castro can be when he’s on form and today served as a nice reminder. Scored the team’s only goal on a nice diving header and took on his defender on a few separate occasions. It’s hard to find a spot for him in Italiano’s system, but super sub may just be it. He provides oodles of energy and skill of the bench and that’s the type of talent that can help you win games in the second half.

Riccardo Saponara—n/a: Only played 7 minutes after replacing Sottil before suffering what looks like a broken wrist.

José Maria Callejón—5: Standard performance from JMC. Worked hard but didn’t create much of anything in the attacking third. It’s a shame we don’t get to experience the JMC that run rampant in Napoli for years. Seems like age has finally caught up with the ex-Real Madrid star.

Álvaro Odriozola—6: Game really changed when he came on in favor or LoLo. Added a different dimension on that right flank and it helped open up the game for a few different players. Obviously the squad needs to be rotated but it’s clear he needs to the first choice RB.

Three things we learned

1. Fiorentina give fans the best Christmas present in years. If you told any Fiorentina fan that we’d be sitting in 7th place, only 6 points off a Champions League places, they’d have taken that in a heartbeat. It’s honestly been a great first half of the year for boys in Purple with some surprisingly great results and some very aesthetically pleasing football. Italiano has been great and the players (and fans) have really taken to him. Definitely some areas for improvement in the New Year, but this was a great first half.

2. Odriozola has to be the starter. All the fans love Venuti and the way he carries himself and how much he loves this club. He just doesn’t have the same skill and impact on the game that Odriozola does. When Alvaro came in today the game script completely flipped and Fiorentina began getting chance after chance. As I mentioned before, there definitely needs to be some squad rotation, but when the best XI is out there, the Spaniard needs to be one of them.

3. We have to keep realistic expectations. A lot of fans including myself, expected Fiorentina to take at least 4 points from their last two games so only taking 2 is a bit underwhelming. While both Sassuolo and Verona are good teams, the early season success has given fans the feeling that we should be beating these type of teams. While Fiorentina are definitely an improvement from seasons past, we are still nowhere near the level of teams like Inter and Milan. Fiorentina are on track to be contender for European places but that time hasn’t come quite yet. We need to just enjoy the ride and the fact we are in 7th place at the break, what a great feeling.

We here at VN just wanted to wish everyone reading a great Holiday season and blessed New Year. Thank you for all the support in 2021, hope to see you again in 2022!