After a quality away win against Bologna, Fiorentina return to the Franchi to host new boys Salernitana. The Viola and the Granata have only meant twice before, during the 1998-99 Serie A campaign when Fiorentina’s almost-manager Gennaro Gattuso played in Salerno. The Viola won 4-0 thanks in Firenze thanks to a Batistuta brace but drew 1-1 in the away fixture.
The referee for this one is 36-year-old Davide Ghersini of Genoa. He’s reffed four Serie A matches this season, issuing sixteen yellow cards, a red card, and two penalties. You might recognize him from being in charge of the Viola’s 1-0 win over Udinese in September. He’s traditionally been a Serie B referee but is making his way up the ranks.
The match will be played Saturday, 30 November 2021, at 9:00 PM GMT/3:00 PM EST at the Stadio Artemio Franchi in beautiful Firenze. The forecast calls for 10° C / 50°F, so you’ll want to bring a sweater if you’re lucky enough to be going.
A second successive win against Bologna has seen the Viola leapfrog Roma in the table, although Juventus passed us by improving their goal differential. Perhaps most importantly, the club equaled their win total from last year- and it’s only December. With the good performances on the field and Jonathon Ikonè’s imminent signing, off it things are feeling pretty swell for the Viola. Still, the only club alongside Dortmund to have not drawn a game this season, a win against Salernitana above the Roman clubs, although it’s hard to see us passing any teams ahead of us in the table
Manager Vincenzo Italiano will welcome Gaetano Castrovilli back to the XI, and Erick Pulgar should be healthy enough to feature from the bench. Pietro Terracciano will again fill in for Bartłomiej Drągowski (thigh) again, and Matija Nastasić (calf) is still unable to play.
There are three question marks in the Viola’s starting XI. The first is right-back, where Lorenzo Venuti and Alvaro Odriozola have been battling all season. Alfred Duncan, Youssef Maleh, or Castrovilli could all start in the third midfield slot, while any of Jose Callejon, Riccardo Sottil, or Riccardo Saponara could do the same on the right-wing.
Salernitana has alternated between a three and four-back system recently, so my money’s that Saponara will start as he’ll have the best chance of breaking down a lower block. This seems the sort of match made for his brilliance, although as we’ve seen, Gonzalez and Dusan Vlahovic should have no trouble wreaking havoc themselves.
Every Serie A campaign, one of the two newly-promoted sides always seems to struggle very hard. This season’s candidate is the Granata, who are struggling to keep pace with Crotone’s point total from last campaign. They sit in last place with eight points from 16 matches, with only one from their last five. They already fired manager Fabrizio Castori back in mid-October, but any new manager bump from Stefano Colantuono has long since worn off.
Salernitana has played different formations practically every match, with everything from a 3-4-1-2 to a 5-3-2 to a 4-1-2-1-2 being used. There are few guarantees in the lineup, but veterans Normbert Gyomber and Stefan Strandberg are as close as they come. Don’t count out Fiorentina loanee Luca Ranieri, who has complied the third-most minutes at the club this season behind Gyomber and goalkeeper Vid Belec. Should Colantuono have his strike force of Viola-ex Franck Ribery, Simy, and Sampdoria loanee Federico Bonazzoli, there’s a decent chance they grab a goal. Look for Salernitana to sit back with eight or nine and absorb the Viola’s pressure, then try and use some Simy holdup play and Ribery magic to score a goal.
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We can say it's a trap game all we want, but Fiorentina’s been very good at the Franchi in recent weeks, and Salernitana very bad on the road. While there’s no such thing as an easy match in Serie A, there doesn’t come an easier match than this. I expect a 3-1 win from the good guys, with Saponara, Milenkovic, and Nico grabbing goals, and Ribery scoring for the visitors.
I’m not normally this confident with Fiorentina, but Vincenzo Italiano has made me a changed man. I figure we have to win at least one of the three matches against the new boys. Right?