The big news was the return of Dodô to the XI after an extended absence, which was really nice to see; the Aleksa-Terzić-rightback experiment has been sort of interesting but not all that fun. The real star of the show, though, was the new third kit: it’s absolutely gorgeous.
And no, your eyes don’t deceive you. The home support created a wild atmosphere that resulted in smoke surrounding the pitch for most of the game. Must’ve been fairly gratifying to Lecce manager Marco Baroni, a native Florentine who’s spoken of his desire to coach the Viola, as well as for former Fiorentina brain trust Pantaleo Corvino and Sandro Mencucci, who now work for the Apullian club.
If you’d expected the team that hammered Hearts in the midweek to turn up, well, you were sorely disappointed. Fiorentina were tentative and toothless. An early injury to Luka Jović, who pulled up after a pretty routine-looking movement, meant that Arthur Cabral came on, but the patter of the game didn’t change: the visitors passed sideways across the defense until the hosts closed them down, then lumped it long and faced a break. Gabriel Strefezz in particular put Cristiano Biraghi and Igor in the blender repeatedly; it looked like it was going to be another long day.
It felt like it was lengthening even more when Cabral headed home following a scramble, but a quick VAR check revealed that Giacomo Bonaventura had been offside in the buildup, so the goal was ruled out. Naturally, it only took 5 minutes for Lecce to take the lead after Ivan González somehow wriggled past both Nico González and Dodô in the corner before sliding in a low cross from Assan Ceesay to slot home from close range after some poor marking from Igor. It wasn’t a good sequence.
To add insult to injury, Cabral scored again—this time with a gorgeous backheeled flick at the front post—but it was again correctly annulled after Antonín Barák was unable to keep the ball in bounds before crossing. The half ended with the Viola looking confused and gormless, more likely to concede another than score. It was grim.
It didn’t take long for the good guys to get it right. Cabral, perhaps accepting that he wouldn’t be able to score in this one, turned provider instead, dinking a lovely little ball over the top for Christian Kouamé to authoritatively head home. It was no more than he deserved for the outstanding work rate he’d displayed all day.
[ed. note: will link the video here when I can find it]
While Lecce had a couple of forays forward that came close—Ceesay in particular missed a great chance from a Strefezza cross—the Viola began to tighten the screws afterwards. Samuel Umtiti got away with just a yellow card after barging over Kouamé, who would’ve been clear through on goal. Lucas Martínez Quarta unleashed a 40-yard thunderbolt a la Roncaglia that Wladimiro Falcone barely tipped away from the top corner, and Nico had another that the goalkeeper fisted upwards and that nearly dropped back into the net.
The succession of corners, however, didn’t ever yield the breakthrough, and even a late red card for Antonino Gallo didn’t yield much besides a booking for Vincenzo Italiano, who was incensed about the time wasting. When the triple blast finally arrived, it felt like another opportunity to grab a rare win in Serie A had gone begging.
Goals: Ceesay 43’ (ass. González); Kouamé 48’ (ass. Cabral)
Cards: Blin 40’, Strefezza 58’, Umtiti 60’, Gallo 90’+2 90’+4; Mandragora 15’, Kouamé 27’, Terracciano 50’, Martínez Quarta 88’
The point leaves Fiorentina in 13th, even on points with Salernitana and Monza. If that sounds sad, well, it is. It really is. At least this team doesn’t play until Saturday’s clash with Inter Milan, which is uh not an appetizing prospect right now, especially as the fans grow increasingly frustrated with feckless performance after feckless performance.