Fiorentina don’t have any time to rue the point lost against AS Roma right at the end, because they’re back in Tuscany for a clash with Parma that looks like it could be key in deciding who drops to Serie B next year. In 66 previous meetings, the Viola hold a W24 D23 L19 edge, although that sinks to just W2 D5 L3 over their past 10 Serie A meetings. The reverse fixture was an unspeakably dreary scoreless draw that precipitated the sacking of Giuseppe Iachini.
The referee for this one is 35-year-old Rosario Abisso of Palermo. In top flight appearances this year, he’s handed out 44 yellow cards, 3 red cards and 6 (!) penalties. He’s always been very eager to point to the spot, so perhaps that’s not too surprising, but don’t be shocked by some typically inexplicable decisions. In 9 games under his eye, the Viola are W6 D1 L2; last we saw him was the 2-0 loss at AC Milan earlier this year. He’s also drawn a lot of flack this year for some awful performances, so let’s all keep slakas in our thoughts.
The match will be played on Sunday, 7 March 2021, at 2:00 PM GMT/9:00 AM EST, at the Stadio Artemio Franchi in beautiful Firenze. The forecast calls for a pretty dang nice day for early spring in Tuscany, with some cloud cover and warm temperatures, but we could see a bit of drizzle towards the end of the proceedings as well.
Viola fans are ramping up for the now-annual fugue state of terror that the end of the season entails. With just 4 points from 5 matches, you don’t have to squint very hard to see why: Fiorentina are still 14th in the table on 25 points, and still have a 5 point cushion between themselves and Torino in the final relegation spot, but improving form from Cagliari (likely just the dead coach bounce) has a lot of Tuscan fingernails looking very well chewed.
Manager Cesare Prandelli will have to do it without CF Franck Ribery (suspension), CF Christian Kouamé (thigh), and CM Giacomo Bonaventura (ankle), while CM Gaetano Castrovilli (hamstring) and CB Igor (ankle) could miss out as well. That could result in some unheralded figures popping up in the XI, such as Valentin Eysseric or José Callejón up top, while Borja Valero will likely have to start in midfield with no other non-Primavera options available; alternatively, we could see more of a 3-4-2-1 with Erick Pulgar and Sofyan Amrabat in the middle and some combination Callejón, Eysseric, or Aleksandr Kokorin behind Dušan Vlahović. No matter how you slice it, San Cesare’s going to have (more than the usual) trouble making this work.
The positive here is that Parma also have the division’s worst non-Crotone defense, capable of conceding in pretty much any possible method they can manage. They sit very deep and and don’t really press farther than 30 meters from their own goal. With Castrovilli and Ribery absent, that’s the smart approach, as there’s no creative passer or dribbler available here. The result will likely be about two dozen Cristiano Biraghi crosses, which isn’t good, as the visitors win the second-highest percent of aerial balls in the league. The Gialloblù have also conceded the most goals from set pieces in Serie A this year (10), so it’s not crazy to think that Nikola Milenković or Germán Pezzella will get on the scoresheet.
It’s been a pretty awful season for the Ducali, who sit in 19th place with just 15 points, largely due to a league-low 20 goals after 25 games. They’ve notched all of 2 league wins this year, most recently October, and have taken just 2 points from their last 5 despite a flurry of activity in the January mercato. If nothing else, we should all thank them for the constant reminder that, no matter how bad Fiorentina is, there are still worse teams in Serie A.
Manager Robert d’Aversa has a selection crisis of his own up front: Joshua Zirkzee, Andreas Cornelius, Roberto Inglese, Graziano Pelle, and Gervinho are all nursing various injuries (although the latter trio may be close to fit). That forced d’Aversa to swap shapes from his preferred 4-3-3 to a 4-3-1-2 last time out with Yann Karamoh and Dennis Man up front, so Prandelli will have to draw some conclusions when the squad lists get released tomorrow.
This team really hates having the ball and will mostly look to thump it upfield whenever possible for speedsters Karamoh and Man (or Gervinho, if he’s fit/cooperating) to chase. They’re not afraid to shoot from distance or lump the ball in for big men Inglese and Pelle to attack if that doesn’t work, but this team is predicated on wingers working the channels and getting in behind. If that doesn’t pan out (and it usually doesn’t pan out), they’re pretty well out of options.
How to watch
TV: I mean, check the full international television listings if you want, but no broadcaster is trying to grab a 14th vs 19th match.
Online: Here is your list of safe, reliable, and legal streams. If you’re in the US, ESPN+ is showing it; sign up using this link if you don’t have an account yet and Viola Nation will get a little bit of cash. Vox Media has affiliate partnerships. These do not influence editorial content, though Vox Media may earn commissions for products purchased via affiliate links.
Ted’s Memorial Blind Guess Department
With both teams missing key players going forward, this is probably going to be a really scrappy and disjointed game with a lot missed passes. Parma’s attack is so woeful even at full strength that you feel like Fiorentina just need a single goal to win it, and even without Tanino and Ribery, they should be able to do just enough. Let’s call it a 2-0 win for the good guys, with Pezzella opening the scoring with a header from a corner and Vlahović galloping away to salt it away late on.