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Atalanta 1-2 Fiorentina: Player grades and 3 things we learned

We’re three games into this season and the Viola have picked up a signature win.

Atalanta BC v ACF Fiorentina - Serie A Photo by Marco Luzzani/Getty Images

Player grades

Pietro Terracciano—7.5: It was a bit odd to see him get the nod over the Dragon, but he showed everyone why he might be the best backup keeper in all of Serie A. Dependable, vocal, and good in 1-v-1 situations. Obviously the penalty wasn’t his fault but that and few nervy moments kept him from getting the 8. While I still don’t think he is our best keeper, he is definitely giving Italiano things to consider. Huge performance with some big saves on Zapata that helped La Viola take three of the biggest points they’ve gotten in quite some time.

Lorenzo Venuti—6: Hard to grade Lolo as he only played 25 minutes before going off for what seemed like a pretty bad shoulder injury. Overall he seemed fine but didn’t do anything particularly noteworthy during his shift. Sending our thoughts and prayers to Venuti in hopes that the injury wasn’t too bad.

Nikola Milenković—7: Similar to Terracciano, was very solid for the vast majority of the match. Ever since he received his contract extension he seems to be a much happier person which has translated to on field success. He was immense in the air all night and didn’t back down from the physical battle with Atalanta’s Zapata. Sprinkle in some timely clearances and you have another great performance from “The Mountain.”

Igor—6.5: It’s been a minute since we’ve seen Igor in the starting lineup, but he put in a solid performance for the away side. Relished the physical battle with Zapata and partnered well with Nikola. One of Igor’s biggest strengths is his passing and he shined today with a 92% pass accuracy. He made small mistakes and took an unnecessary yellow card, but overall thought he had a great night. It seems the second CB spot next to Milenković is up for grabs between Igor, LMQ, and Nastasić and with performances like today, he’s staked his claim.

Cristiano Biraghi—7: It was a good night for the Fiorentina captain, running up and down that left flank like a train. He put quite a few good balls, but unfortunately didn’t connect with anyone at the other end. He did lose the most duels of anyone on the pitch, but he’s never been known for being a physical presence. It seems he’s settling in really well as captain and that’s a good sign given the mutiny he almost caused last season.

Giacomo Bonaventura—7: Jacky B continued his streak of being Fiorentina’s best midfielder with another great game in Bergamo. He was active in the attack as well as in defense making timely interceptions and recoveries when called upon. He pops up with flashy skills and moments of brilliance but it’s easy to forget just how solid of a midfielder he is. It seems like he’s a mainstay in the starting XI and that’s a good thing for us fans. Absolute rock in that midfield.

Lucas Torreira—6.5: Overall it was a pretty decent debut game from the Uruguayan. He ran around the midfield like a madman trying to help against a very potent Atalanta side and he did well in helping out his partners. We didn’t get to see much of him pulling the strings from the midfield, but as it’s hist first game with the club we assume that’ll come in due course.

Alfred Duncan—6.5: If you were playing “where in the world is Alfred Duncan?” it seems we finally have an answer, the starting lineup! The once forgotten man has emerged from the bench and was given a start in a tough match. His first touch let him down on a number of occasions, but his ability to recover and win the ball back is incredible. He will never amaze you with his skills, but he’s a really good all-around midfielder who can do almost anything asked of him. Should he be starting over Castrovilli, I don’t think so, but he is definitely a great depth player. In a super crowded midfield room he’s become a dependable option for the Mister.

José Callejón—5: It’s fair to say that the ex-Napoli man was the worst player wearing red today and the evidence was in the penalty he gave away in the second half. While I don’t think it was an egregious foul by the Spaniard, he was pretty poor throughout. He just doesn’t have the pace and engine he used to have and it’s glaringly obvious that we needed to sign another winger in the transfer window. To his credit, he battled all game long and tracked back a lot, but offensively he didn’t add too much.

Dušan Vlahović—8.5: The young Serb continued his stellar run of form with two more goals today. While both of them were penalties, he still converted them with the upmost of ease and composure. His hold-up play is up there with the best in the world and there are not many CBs who can truly hang with him from a physical and aerial perspective. What impresses me most about his game is his willingness to link up with teammates and his infectious positivity. Even when a play doesn’t go right, you see him encouraging his teammates and attempting to keep morale high. That’s such an important trait to see from such a young player. Three goals from three games is a pretty good start!

Riccardo Sottil—5.5: A lot of fans (including me) pushed for him to get a start and Italiano granted that wish. He was given the nod at LW in order to rest González after a long International Break. Ricky didn’t really have his best game in my eyes. His dribbling wasn’t as crisp as usual and that resulted in a ton promising attacks cut short due to poor plays by him. While he definitely has quality and deserves another start, this wasn’t his best showing.

Álvaro Odriozola—6.5: Probably not the debut he was expecting having to come on midway through the first-half due to an injury to Venuti, but he handled himself well. Was a sturdy beacon in both facets of the game and excelled with his long ball delivery and crosses. It was only a matter of time before he took the starting spot from Venuti but this performance + the unfortunate injury probably solidifies his spot at RB.

Sofyan Amrabat—6: Came in with 20 or so minutes to play and did his usual business in midfield. Kept the ball moving from deep and made a timely tackle here and there when required. Didn’t expect to see him come in the game, but it seems Italiano is giving all the midfielders a run to see which of them rise to the top. Having too much depth is never a bad thing and the Moroccan was solid today.

Riccardo Saponara—5.5: Came in with Amrabat and it was pretty weird to see those two next to each other (plus Italiano) as it looked like a before, after, and way after picture. I think Saponara is a great player and fine rotational player, but he really is not good on the wing. His pace (or lack thereof) cost Fiorentina the chance to get a third and effectively put the game away. His performances on the wing should show management that a new winger is definitely needed in January. Italiano seems to love him so I am sure this isn’t the last we will see of him for better or worse.

Gaetano Castrovilli—n/a: Seemed more confident on the ball then usual and seems like he got his quickness back. Didn’t have much time to make a serious impact, but this was a step in the right direction for the European Champion.

Nicolás González—n/a: Came in during the dying embers of the game but somehow almost found a way to make an impact. He’s such a special player and if this team can win big games without him, imagine what they can do with him. Scary prospect for the rest of Serie A.

Three things we learned

1. Italiano has made Fiorentina fun again

Whether Fiorentina is winning 2-0 or losing 4-0, this team is going to attack, attack, and attack some more. The other team can’t score a goal if you constantly have the ball in their attacking third and that was Fiorentina today. Even when up 2-0 they continued to push for that third goal which is a welcome sight after a few years of “gioca, gioca, gioca.” Not only is the team fun on the pitch, but all the players (including the bench) seem to really get on with one another. As we saw with Italy in the Euro Cup, sometimes good team camaraderie is as important as individual skill in a team’s success.

2. Vlahović is that guy…pal

The biggest worry of most Fiorentina fans this summer is whether or not they’d be able to hold on their talisman and luckily Rocco and co. were able to do just that. Even though this season is still in its infancy stages, he has already repaid the club’s faith in him with another hot start. His skills are undeniable but it’s his positive outlook and demeanor that make him such a great player to have in your club.

3. Europe is within our grasp

While Fiorentina still has a lot to do, there is a real optimism around the team that this is the year they finally get back into European contention. They play an exciting brand of football and the team unity is something that may carry them back into Europe. They finally have quality players and it seems like the Fiorentina brass has found a coach to match that quality. Maybe I am too optimistic, maybe I am too naive, either way this win was huge and we need to enjoy it.