Having assembled their first 3-match win streak this season, Fiorentina take the long trip from Riga to Genoa for a date with Sampdoria. In 137 previous meetings, the Viola hold a W49 D49 L39 mark, although that drops to W3 D2 L5 over their past 10 league clashes, including a putrid 4-1 defeat in this fixture last year.
The referee for this one is 37-year-old Livio Marinelli of Tivoli. In 5 Serie A matches this year, he’s handed out 20 yellow cards, 1 red card, and a whopping 4 penalties. Fiorentina have won, drawn, and lost one each under his direction. Last we saw him was the 0-0 against Napoli, in which he allowed the contest to devolve into a pretty ugly affair in the second half.
The match will be played on Sunday, 6 November 2022, at 1:00 PM GMT/9:00 AM EST, at the Stadio Luigi Ferraris in Genoa. Contrary to the typical Ligurian autumn, it’s going to be a pretty pleasant fall day, with the temperature chilly rather than biting and the clouds sparse rather than all-encompassing. Should be really nice.
It’s been a woeful year for Sampdoria, who’ve slumped to 18th place with 6 points from 12 matches, with their only win coming over newly-promoted Cremonese. They’ve yet to score more than once in a Serie A match this year—they’ve notched 6 times altogether—and own the division’s worst goal difference at -15. Not surprisingly, they sacked manager Marco Giampaolo a month ago, given that he’d taken 2 points from 8 games, but they’re hardly out of the woods.
New boss Dejan Stanković won’t have CM Harry Winks, AM Valerio Verre, RW Ignacio Pussetto, or CF Manuel de Luca, although CF Fabio Quagliarella may be fit enough for the bench. The former Inter Milan man has favored a 4-4-2 or 4-4-1-1 this year, but since he’s been on the job for less than a month, we haven’t really had the chance to see any real tactical changes other than the typical “keep it tight and get back to basics” approach that any new manager adopts with a struggling club.
Stanković clearly doesn’t prioritize possession the way Giampaolo does, so expect the Blucerchiati to sit deeper in two banks of 4 and play more on the break, especially since that’s how you put Fiorentina off. They don’t cross the ball much but are pretty good at moving it forward along the carpet, looking to play quickly and vertically. They lack outstanding pace up front and don’t have a lot of firepower, so Fiorentina basically just need to avoid doing anything stupid at the back. Which, if you’re a Viola fan, should make you very nervous indeed.
Things are finally starting to look up a little bit in Florence. After an abjectly miserable start to the season, Fiorentina has won 3 straight matches (albeit two of which were in the Conference League) and are starting to perform pretty well, creating more opportunities in attack while still looking quite fragile at the back. Before we get too optimistic, though, let’s remember that this team is 13th in Serie A with 13 points from 12 matches and a -4 goal difference; there’s a lot of work to be done to return to last season’s level, much less surpass it.
Manager Vincenzo Italiano won’t have RW Nicolás González or LW Riccardo Sottil but will welcome back DM Sofyan Amrabat. It’ll be the usual 4-3-3, of course, with Nikola Milenković, Cristiano Biraghi, Christian Kouamé, and Luka Jović back in the XI. The only real questions are between Alfred Duncan and Youssef Maleh in midfield and Riccardo Saponara and Jonathan Ikoné on the wing.
Samp have been Serie A’s worst defense so far largely due to some really loose passing at the back allowing opponents to attack short fields. Stanković is clearly trying to fix that by implementing a more direct approach, but pressing could still be the best weapon in the Viola arsenal here. The crux of the issue is whether Italiano opts for a less-controlled and more direct approach here; Fiorentina have looked much more dangerous when they play a bit more vertically, so it could be a matter of ceding some possession in order to ramp up the tempo.
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Ted’s Memorial Blind Guess Department
Fiorentina come into this one as significant favorites at most betting houses for pretty obvious reasons. They’re higher in the table, on a better run of form, haven’t changed managers this month, and just plain look better. Even without González and Sottil, they have (on paper, at least) a pretty clear talent advantage. It’s not like the Ferraris has been a fortress, either: Samp’s only home win came on penalties over Ascoli in the Coppa Italia. While the Blucerchiati have been a Viola bugbear over the past few seasons, they’re so troubled right now that you can’t really trust them.
That’s why I’m saying that Fiorentina walks away from the Marassi with a 0-2 win. I’m calling a Jović penalty in the first half after Kouamé wins the foul and a late strike from Arthur Cabral to settle it, with a pretty dingy affair in between, featuring a lot of fouls and probably a pretty enjoyable battle between Amrabat and Tomás Rincón at some point. Because I really don’t want to contemplate Fiorentina losing this one. At all.