You have the friend. We all have the friend. The friend who goes on a first date, has a nice time, makes plans to do it again, and goes home to pick floral arrangements for the wedding so next time they meet their date, they can get some input. And this friend has absolutely no idea why they’re still single.
Every year, I go into Moena with the exact same mindset: The players are great! The coach is a genius! See, they’re beating up on a German amateur team whose striker has gorgeous and charismatic beer gut! Fiorentina are definitely going to win a lot of games and push for Europe, maybe even the Champions League if everything breaks right! Andy Bangu is going to be the best midfielder in Serie A by 2020! Wait, why haven’t they called me back?
This year, though, feels a little bit different. It’s not just because I’m refusing to fall in love with Alessandro Bianco or Dimo Krastev or Louis Munteanu, but also because I’ve been able to zoom out a little bit more than I usually do, and I’ve arrived at a conclusion that’s probably really obvious for everyone else: Moena didn’t meant anything more than that first date.
Part of it was the quality of competition. The best team the Viola played was Virtus Vecomp Verona; with respect to i Rebelli, who are a rad club for a lot of reasons and whom I would definitely go see live, they’re more likely to fight against dropping out of Serie C than they are to push on to Serie B. The other opponents were comprised of part-time guys who have day jobs. Of course the Viola looked amazing.
The other part of it is that we didn’t even see the XI: Germán Pezzella, Nicolás González, Gaetano Castrovilli, Erick Pulgar, Sofyan Amrabat, Lucas Martínez Quarta, and Christian Kouamé were all away the past couple of weeks, either vacationing, rehabbing, or at the Olympics. They’re all either starters or top reserves and we have no idea how they’ll look in this system.
Any good relationship is built on trust and patience, so I’m not saying that we should assume that Fiorentina are going to be terrible this year. In fact, any team that brings in a promising young coach and a record signing in attack while bringing back the best young striker in Serie A has a pretty rosy outlook.
But look at the roster. Youssef Maleh may have been the best player so far, and I’m very excited for him. However, he was stuck behind Jack Bonaventura and Alfred Duncan in preseason, and that’s without figuring in Tanino, Amrabat, and Pulgar. He could wind up being 5th choice. Same goes for Riccardo Saponara and Igor and Aleksa Terzić and Marco Benassi and José Callejón and...
What I’m saying that the team we’re (hopefully) going to fall in love with isn’t even remotely the team we’ve seen so far. The lineup against AS Roma in two and a half weeks (!) is likely to feature at least 6 guys we haven’t even see play under Vincenzo Italiano yet, and Daniele Pradè is going to be reshuffling the roster quite a bit over the coming month. As with any relationship, it’s not how it starts. It’s how you keep it going every day after that.