On a surprisingly pleasant day in Genoa, Dejan Stanković switched systems completely, going to 3 at the back and using Filip Djuričić in midfield, while 19-year-old Daniele Montevago made his first-ever Serie A start up front. Vincenzo Italiano left out Sofyan Amrabat and Nicolás González due to fitness concerns.
Fiorentina opened the scoring early with perhaps the best team goal of the Serie A season. Christian Kouamé won the ball near the Fiorentina corner flag, found Rolando Mandragora, and then burst down the left past Bartosz Bereszyński before cutting in and finding Jonathan Ikoné. The Frenchman disguised a ball through for Dodô, streaking in behind, and the fullback found Giacomo Bonaventura with a cutback; that was all she wrote. Simply gorgeous.
The Viola had a second chance not much later as Ikoné latched onto a hopeful lob from Luka Jović. Jonny burst past everyone and rounded Emil Audero, but chose not to shoot with two Samp defenders in the goal and instead squared for Kouamé, who saw his shot blocked by Bereszyński. The real drama began occurred soon after. Kouamé played a cross into the box, where Jović, with his back to goal, leapt to control it with his chest. As he was airborne, Emil Audero and Gonzálo Villar both barged through his back. Referee Livio Marinelli, after initially pointing for the penalty, eventually waved it off after taking a look at the monitor. It’s perhaps the most inexplicable refereeing decision we’ve seen in Italy this year. I cannot fully explain how ridiculous it was.
VAR popped up again after Pietro Terracciano appeared to handle a long pass outside his area, but replays showed he was barely inside the line. The game was, frankly, terrible: 18 first half fouls (11 from Fiorentina) and at least 10 more that didn’t get called meant it was an ugly, stop-start affair. Samp’s only threat came from Tommaso Augello down the left, but both teams were sloppy moving the ball forward and didn’t deserve anything. All in all, it was the strangest 45 minutes you’ll see.
The halftime insertions of Igor and Arthur Cabral for Lucas Martínez Quarta (possibly dinged up) and Luka Jović (???) didn’t pay immediate dividends, but Fiorentina seemed a bit more in control after the break. Bonaventura and Ikoné in particular seemed to be running the show as Samp more or less surrendered. Jack and Cabral both had chances before Nikola Milenković nodded home a Cristiano Biraghi corner. For those of you wondering, yes, it was pretty much a carbon copy of the one he scored against RFS on Thursday.
The second goal clearly took the wind entirely out of Samp’s sails and they capitulated. Despite taking a couple of pop shots, they never really threatened Terracciano’s goal again, and the Viola had a couple more chances through the impressive Cabral and Jack that they didn’t take. Really, though, it was mostly a matter of knocking the ball around and waiting for Marinelli to blow it dead; the Ferraris faithful had some whistles for their own team and it’s not hard to see why.
Goals; Bonaventura 4’ (ass. Dodô), Milenković 58’ (ass. Biraghi)
Cards: Léris 25’
The win hauls Fiorentina up to 11th, even with Bologna on points. It also means they’ve won 4 games in a row, including back-to-back wins in Serie A for the first time this year and first time since 16 April, when they knocked off Venezia. They’ve scored 9 goals and conceded 2 over those 4 games and it looks like they’re figuring out how to create chances again, largely due to a slightly more vertical style of play. Give Italiano credit for changing his approach and putting his players in positions to succeed.
It feels like they’re starting to build some momentum and could head into the World Cup break (as always, the stupidest sentence I could write) in the top half of the table if things break right. We’re only through a third of the season so there’s time yet to shed this cocoon of ugliness and flutter up the standings like the beautiful purple butterfly we know this team can be.