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Fiorentina 1-3 Inter Milan: Player grades and 3 things we learned

The end result wasn’t a shock, but the way it played out is quite educational once you get past the black cloud of rage.

ACF Fiorentina v FC Internazionale - Serie A
Photo by Giuseppe Maffia/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Player grades

Bartłomiej Drągowski—5: Couldn’t have really done anything differently on any of the goals, but giving up 3 is never a good thing for a goalkeeper. The reason I’m docking him points here is that he had a couple of serious goofs in possession. He got away with them, and we all understand that getting better with your feet means making some mistakes, but one a game feels sufficient.

Marco Benassi—4.5: I don’t want to be too hard on one of the club’s long-term whipping boys; agreeing to start against Inter Milan in an unfamiliar position shows some heart and Marco deserves credit. Maybe he’ll even grow into the role. However, his iffy first touch, weakness in the air, slowness stepping up or closing space, and general unfamiliarity with the job meant he was not very good today.

Nikola Milenković—5.5: The best defender on the day, sure, but that’s not saying much. Mostly kept Lautaro Martínez and Edin Džeko in check, although he did give up a free kick right outside the area that Bart made a good save on.

Matija Nastasić—5: Not sure why Vincenzo Italiano picked him, as this one required a lot of man-marking and running from the central defenders and Nasty’s not the quickest guy out there. Mostly kept himself in the right places, but also looked like he hadn’t played a competitive match in nearly a year. Seemed hesitant to step up, although he was okay with the ball at his feet.

Cristiano Biraghi—5: Really good going forward in the first half but vulnerable on the back foot throughout, which feels pretty par for the course at this point. Had two very good shots early on but faded later. Nowhere to be seen on Matteo Darmian’s equalizer. Can’t blame him too much for losing out to the much taller Džeko on the corner, but his defensive frailties are becoming a serious issue.

Giacomo Bonaventura—5: Very quiet game for Jack, likely because he was very tired. Had fewer touches than the other midfielders, didn’t really create anything, and lacked the energy to press very much. He’s class, but clearly can’t play 2 games in 4 days anymore.

Lucas Torreira—6.5: Much better this time around. Dictated the tempo relentlessly, constantly changing the angle of attacks and occasionally getting it forward himself. Pressed with an awe-inspiring fury, harrying Marcelo Brozović in particular throughout the first half and completely disrupting anything Inter tried to build from deep. Like everyone else, he faded a bit late on, but if this is the player he’s going to be, he’s a steal.

Alfred Duncan—6: Pressed very well, took one excellent shot, created a chance with a lovely ball in. Still missed some fairly simple passes, as his wont, but is showing why so many Fiorentina fans have been clamoring for him for so long. His energy without the ball is his main selling point, but he’s more than capable of offering something in the final third, too, which makes him the most balanced midfielder on the roster after Jack.

Riccardo Sottil—6.5: Had a genuinely bizarre game. Scored the goal with a Callejón-esque back post run and worked hard without the ball, but left at least two goals out there with mind-numbingly bad decisions. He’s still testing the limits of his ability and trying to find his place in the hierarchy. It’ll come, but, like with Drągowski’s distribution, it’s going to be bumpy until he gets there.

Dušan Vlahović—6: Worked hard and was unlucky not to score early on while showing an unselfishness in the area that we haven’t seen before, teeing up González a few times. Grew increasingly frustrated with Sottil in particular as the winger missed him several times, which is fair, but he didn’t offer enough late on. In fairness, he was up against the best back three in Italy, so he’ll be okay.

Nicolás González—7: Was hands down the best player on the field for the first 45 minutes, causing no end of trouble for Inter’s vaunted defense. Used his pace, technique, and physicality to carve out chances for himself and others. You can see why he was so upset, given the kicking he took throughout (Inter could have had at least twice as many bookings), but he also needs to calm himself down there. He can’t let his ego come before the team.

Sofyan Amrabat—5: Didn’t do anything especially wrong, but probably didn’t do anything especially right either. Buzzed around and won the ball well, but the team structure disintegrated around him as Fiorentina threw bodies forward. Italiano clearly views him as a regista more than anything, which is food for thought.

Álvaro Odriozola—5: Didn’t offer much going forward and didn’t defend particularly well either.

Riccardo Saponara—4.5: Can’t really remember him doing anything, although he didn’t have many opportunities since Nico got sent off just moments after he came on.

José Callejón—n/a: Played in central midfield for a couple of minutes, which was weird.

Aleksandr Kokorin—n/a: F*** off.

Three things we learned

1. Fixing Fiorentina’s mindset is going to take a long time. We knew that, obviously, but this was a very good reminder of the gulf that yawns between a perennial underachiever and the reigning champions. The lack of focus showed in all the missed chances in the first half and the unraveling in the second. Allowing goals against the run of play and losing your head, even if it’s understandable why, are also the signs of a mentality problem. Italiano’s clearly got these guys believing in themselves more than they did under Giuseppe Iachini, but you can’t switch a mindset in a couple of months.

2. Fiorentina need to learn how to turn it on and off. The Viola played better in the first half than we’ve seen them play since, what, the first Vincenzo Montella era? Inter were clearly aghast at the energy and precision they walked into, but it was clear that the good guys wouldn’t be able to sustain that level against such a talented opponent, especially off just two days of rest. Still, it would’ve been much more effective to come out like maniacs, pin Inter back for half an hour, then sit a bit deeper to conserve energy in order to have something in reserve to attack in the second period. Instead, the Viola clearly shot their bolt and Inter were only too happy to take advantage. Italiano’s done a good job of helping his charges vary the tempo with the ball; the next step is varying the tempo without it.

3. Yall are smart as hell. I was really worried that such a disappointing game would lead to some recriminations and fury in the comments here (y’know, because it’s Fiorentina). Instead, everyone here took the exact right lessons out of the match without melting down. I love yall.