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Bologna 3-3 Fiorentina: Player Grades and 3 things we learned

The Viola’s shambolic defending prevents a win, but the club still finds itself on the brink of safety.

Bologna FC v ACF Fiorentina - Serie A Photo by Mario Carlini / Iguana Press/Getty Images

Player grades

Bartłomiej Drągowski—5.5: Has a solid stop on Riccardo Orsolini in the 25th minute, but giving up three goals hurts his rating, even if most of that was due to inadequate defending from the Fiorentina.

Lorenzo Venuti—6: Another solid performance from Lollo, who had a great weak-footed cross in the 15th minute which Cristiano Biraghi should have done better with. Should have done better with Palacio’s first, but was also left out to dry by horrid defensive positioning. A great ball to Giacomo Bonaventura for the Viola’s second evens out his defensive miscues.

Nikola Milenković—4.5: The mountain following Orsolini’s run for Palacio’s third was horrible. While I still think some team in prem will overpay for him, his inconsistent performances the last few months have me doubting a €40 million price tag. Of course, it could be that his move to Liverpool or Manchester United is already lined up and he’s coasting on summer vacation.

Germán Pezzella—4: It really doesn’t get much worse than Pezzella’s defending on Palacio’s second. I had to writhe away from my computer in pain upon re-watching. For a center-back like German, who isn’t the most athletic, awareness and positioning are the two most important aspects of his game. Both of those have declined mightily, and it’s hard to see Pezzella remaining with the club next season.

Martín Cáceres—5: Clearly more trusted by Beppe than LMQ, Cáceres has put in solid performances as a center back in Beppe’s second stint this year. I’ve done a 180 on Martin as a player, and I would be happy to see him re-sign for another season as a depth option who can play multiple positions.

Cristiano Biraghi—4: Was pretty horrible throughout the day, misplacing crosses, passes, and poor defensive placement. Case in point: his slip in the 35th minute. One would think being on the fringes of Italy’s euro squad would motivate him to perform better, but alas his form has fallen off a cliff in 2021.

Sofyan Amrabat—6: Bepp’s now figured out how to use him, and Amrabat delivered again. It seems he’s starting to put the hiccups towards the end of the Prandelli era behind him.

Erick Pulgar—6.5: Getting out-paced by the 39-year-old Palacio in the 15th minute is not a good look, but credit to Pulgar for taking the shot which struck Adama Soumaoro’s hand for the penalty five minutes later. All in all, I’m excited to see the Chilean lock in a spot in Beppe’s lineup, allowing Amrabat to push further forwards and be the destroyer he should be.

Giacomo Bonaventura—7.5: Jack has been one of the Viola’s best players in 2021, and delivered maybe his best performance of the season today. Operating just under Ribery and Vlahovic, Bonaventura caused constant problems for the Bologna defense. Obviously his goal was a highlight, but I’d like to point out a spectacular dribble he had in the 29th minute to draw a foul in Rossoblu territory.

Dušan Vlahović—7.5: Buried the penalty with precision, and looked to be the top-tier Serie A striker which he is at this point with great positioning for the second goal It’d be ludicrous to not keep him for another season, even if that means his value declines slightly.

Franck Ribery—5.5: Drifted around as he usually does, but it just didn't seem to be his type of match against the Rossublu. As Tito has pointed out numerous times, Ribery seems to be taking away the types of opportunities which should be falling to Gaetano Castrovilli.

Igor—5.5: Came in to replace Biraghi, and did a better job all around. Unlike Milenkovic, Igor held the line properly on Palacio’s third.

Christian Kouamé—4.5: It’s been a letdown of a season for Kouame, who clearly still has potential but has yet to put it together. It’s hard to believe he was rated better than Dusan by the fanbase (and Beppe Iachini) at the start of the season. He may need a change in scenery.

Gaetano Castrovilli—5.5: It’s disappointing that Castrovilli looks to be firmly out of the Viola’s best lineup at this point in the campaign, and at this point, it’s tough to see him given a place in Roberto Mancini’s 23-man Azzurri setup this summer. However, that could give him the rest he needs to figure how to make his game start ticking again, as there’s no reason he should be valued less than Dusan based on skill alone.

Three things we learned

1. Beppe has lost his touch.

The Viola had the best defense in Serie A last season after Beppe was appointed. What happened to that this season? In 14 matches in charge, the Viola have given up 24 goals under Beppe, which is nowhere near the level one would expect. Throughout the match the Viola’s defensive organization was woeful, with Sofyan Amrabat and Erick Pulgar’s positioning being especially confusing. Watching seven Viola players drop into a straight line just to see Vignato pick the defense apart was disappointing, to say the least. While I still imagine the Viola will face off against Beppe next season, his tactics need some tweaking if he is to be successful at his next stop in Serie A.

2. Yes, Fiorentina needs to shop all over the pitch.

This is something that the fans know, but something that management hasn’t figured out yet. The Viola’s many roster weaknesses were thoroughly exposed by an average Bologna side. Assuming that Milenkovic leaves, the Viola will need to purchase at least one (but probably two) center-backs, upgrades for both Biraghi and Venuti on the flanks, another quality midfielder, as well as a partner for Dusan up top. That doesn’t even take into account the wingers which would be necessary were the Viola to hire Gennaro Gattuso or Roberto De Zerbi. That is going to retire a complete overhaul of the roster, not the stopgap solutions which Rocco Commisso and co. seem to think are necessary for this roster. Unless Ivan Juric is a miracle worker, don’t expect the Viola to be anywhere near Europe for the fourth year running next season.

3. We’re not safe from relegation yet

While this isn’t anything new, each weekend the Viola learn a lot from around the league about their chances of staying up. Currently, Fiorentina is four points clear of Benevento in 18th place, with three clubs (Torino, Spezia, and Cagliari) between them. At this point, Fiorentina has one obvious path to staying up: beat Cagliari next Wednesday. With that result in their pocket, it is just about impossible for multiple clubs below the Viola to finish with more than 38 points. That doesn’t sound too difficult, especially when considering that a draw against the Isolani and a win against lowly Crotone on the last day would guarantee the same. Even if Fiorentina were to lose out, I doubt Benevento will get five points from their last four matches given their recent form. However, as a United States Men's National Team fan, I know never to count these types of things out too early, and the Viola could very well be playing a Tuscan derby against Pisa next fall.