Pietro Terracciano—6.5: Terracciano had practically nothing to do all match, although he was caught out in no-mans land and nearly suffered embarrassment at the hands of Manolo Portonova’s lob in the first half. Still, a clean sheet bumps him back up. Interesting to see if he’s the starter moving forwards, if so it’s hard to see Bart sticking around through the summer.
Cristiano Biraghi—8.5: He was never tested defensively all match, so I can’t give him too high of a grade, but my god. I can’t remember the last time I saw a player score two free-kicks in a match. Both of his goals were absolutely gorgeous, and he combined well going forwards as well. Still think we need a defensive upgrade this summer to push further up the table, but he’s won me over quite a bit since the beginning of the year.
Igor—6.5: Genoa playing horribly meant that he had little to do, but this was still the best match I’ve seen from Igor in a little while. Comfortable on the ball yet physical in the tackle, if he can put it all together he’d be a hell of a defender. Hopefully, he gains confidence from this match and starts improving the mental side of his game.
Nikola Milenković—6.5: Similar to Igor, was hardly called into action. Was his normal physical self, winning three aerial duels. Locked down Yeboah and Destro to great effect.
Alvaro Odriozola—7.5: Probably the best game I’ve seen from Odriozola. Like Biraghi, it helped he didn’t have to defend, but he was such a great positive presence moving forwards today, always offering an option to Nico and Jack. I’ll repeat word for word what I said about Biraghi here: Still think we need a defensive upgrade this summer to push further up the table, but he’s won me over quite a bit since the beginning of the year.
Jack Bonaventura—7.5: I’m of the opinion Jack should be getting a look for the Azzurri, and this match continues to show why. Even if he wasn’t the flashiest today, he showed great positioning and awareness on the first goal, and then dropped a beauty of a pass onto Vlahovic for an assist later on. He had the fourth most passes for the Viola (77), showing how integral he is to all phases of the match for Vincenzo Italiano.
Lucas Torreira—8: Savor that Torreira header while you can, because I doubt we’ll see another one from him during his time in Firenze. Seriously, how awesome is this guy? I’m happy to be vindicated on wanting him here so badly, and he’s been so good. Single-handedly he’s transformed this Fiorentina midfield, and we can’t buy him outright soon enough. 95% pass accuracy on 87 passes is exactly what we needed from our regista.
Youssef Maleh—7: Maleh wasn’t nearly as involved in the buildup as Jack or Torreira, but he did a good job of floating forwards and getting on the end of crosses. He had a good volley attempt early on, and nearly scored a beautiful bicycle kick. All in all, he’s grown so much as a player in the last six months and is a guy who I think could be an everyday starter a year from now. While I’m disappointed he wasn’t called up to AFCON, him showing his skills in Firenze right now further proves that he needs to be in the Atlas Lions’ next squad.
Nico Gonzalez—7.5: It was his best match since Bologna, as he wreaked havoc on the left-hand side. He had by far the most key passes on the team with 5, and although he wasn’t rewarded on the stat sheet, this is the Nico we needed to see. Constantly shifting this way and that, he used his change of pace to deadly effect against Genoa’s Serie B level defenders. He’s overdue for a goal at this point, so I’m betting on him finding the net against Cagliari.
Dušan Vlahović—7: That panenka miss was bad. Really bad. Him wheeling away to celebrate before it went in? Yikes. Of course, he rebounded from that rocky start and played excellently, showing off his hold-up play in combinations with Jack, Nico and Ricky Saponara. His goal was a thing of beauty and highlights why Arsenal fans are drooling over him so much. He’s the best #9 we’ll have for a while, so I’ll enjoy him while he’s on the field in Viola. Although, I’m not going to be too sad to see him leave given him and Darko Ristic’s off-the-field antics.
Riccardo Saponara—7: Another player who’s surprised me positively this year. He drew the penalty and looked dangerous the entire time he was on the pitch. He may not have the best athleticism, but his finesse and technique were on full display here. Nearly curled another beauty into the corner in the first half.
Aleksa Terzic—6: I’m giving him a 6 out of 10 but I can hardly remember anything he did, which isn’t a bad thing at all. Not convinced he’s our left-back of the future but the more garbage-time minutes he gets, the better.
Alfred Duncan—6 Was asked to play in an awkward spot on the right side of midfield. He did an admirable job, doing his duty defensively while helping start several attacks.
Jonathon Ikone—6.5: In his 20 minutes he always looked dangerous, dribbling into several dangerous spots. His highlight was his beautiful cross that found Torreira at the back post. I can’t wait to see him, Nico, and Dušan play an entire match together as our tridente.
Josè Callejon—6: All the danger came due to Ordiozola or Ikone in his time on the pitch. If anything, this further illustrates just how much we upgraded from him with Ikone.
Erick Pulgar—N/A Glad to see him healthy and back on the field.
Three things we learned
1. Trevor was right.
After being demolished by Torino, I was almost ready to write an article ranting about all this team’s deficiencies. Instead, I didn’t, and Trevor's article telling everyone to not panic helped calm me down. He’s been proven right the last two matches, as the Viola has put together two quality performances. Even if Genoa looked like a Serie B team today, Fiorentina’s mentality was back on the right track. From the first minute, the team was playing aggressively and looked motivated. I don’t know where that motivation was against Verona and il Toro, but I’m glad it’s back. Every team is going to have ups and downs throughout a season, and Fiorentina is out of its holiday slump and pushing for Europe yet again.
2. Jack and Castro or Duncan and Maleh cannot play together.
Watching Jack and Castro play together against Torino was a disaster. The last two matches, Italiano has opted to play just one of the two at the same time, alongside one of Duncan or Maleh. The balance this gives is obvious. This is partly due to the fact that putting each midfielder on the same side as their strong foot makes the passing lanes available in Italiano’s system easier to find. When Castro had the ball in midfield against Torino, having to turn inside to pass the ball towards the middle slowed the Viola down and helped lead to us losing possession in very sloppy ways many times. On the other hand, Maleh and Duncan can distribute while being able to play balls down the line with ease. A two-footed midfielder would be ideal in this spot, but a lefty is better than Castro. In addition, this midfield division gives Fiorentina far more balance. Maleh and Duncan are both better defensively than Jack and Castro, and it shows. Italiano needs to keep this rotation going moving forwards.
3. This team does not need any more incoming transfers this window.
When I say need, I don’t mean shouldn’t. That is, if a great opportunity such as Julian Alvarez appears in the last few days of the mercato, the Viola should be proactive and bring him in. But as of right now, there’s no one spot on the field that is a glaring weakness for the Viola and easily fixable in the winter mercato. Sure, I’d like wingbacks who are better defensively, and a stud midfielder in place of Maleh or Duncan would make the team better. With Biraghi, Ordriozola, and Maleh’s good play today, I’m convinced we don’t need to do that this window. The January mercato is designed for tweaking, not rebuilding, and Daniele Pradè has done exactly that, bringing in two key reinforcements in areas of desperate need. There are no obvious holes on the roster, and the team seems to like each other and has regained its form. Let’s not mess with that while we try and leave Lazio and Roma in the dust.