After dispatching a listless Sampdoria for their 4th straight win in all competitions and 2nd straight in Serie A (the first time they’ve managed that since last April), Fiorentina return home for the last time in 2022 (I’ll keep writing it: this World Cup is idiotic) to face Salernitana. In 14 previous meetings, the Viola are W8 D2 L4, including a 4-0 thumping in this fixture last year. Also worth noting is that Franck Ribery retired last month into a director’s role with the Granata, so don’t expect to see him kitted up.
The referee for this one is 39-year-old Federico La Penna of Rome. He (somewhat ominously) hasn’t handled a Serie A match this year and only has 10 previously, in which he’s handed out 50 yellow cards, 4 red cards, and 4 penalties. It’s worth mentioning that he was a last-minute inclusion onto the list of officials approved for the top flight following some weird calls last year, too. Under his direction, Fiorentina are winless, having drawn to Parma and lost to Inter Milan.
The match will be played on Wednesday, 9 November 2022, at 7:45 PM GMT/2:45 PM EST, at the Stadio Artemio Franchi in beautiful Firenze. The forecast calls for a grey, drizzly day, but it shouldn’t be too chilly. We’ve also heard that there’s a significant chance of a McMike sighting (albeit not in Rocco’s section or the press box), so keep an eye out for him.
After a dismal opening to the season, Fiorentina suddenly look to be getting back on track. After 13 games, they’re on 16 points and have started to turn themselves around due to some astute tactical tweaks, and they’re into the next round of the Conference League too. A win here would see them leapfrog the Ippocampi and move into the top half of the table, putting them back on course to push for Europe again over the remaining two-thirds of the season; it’s quite a turnaround from a team that won just 1 of its first 6 league games.
Manager Vincenzo Italiano won’t have LW Riccardo Sottil (who may or may not need back surgery, depending on whom you ask) and may not have RW Nicolás González either (who’s not healthy enough for the Viola but mysteriously healthy enough for Argentina’s World Cup squad). He’ll probably stick with the usual 4-2-3-1ish shape, with Antonín Barák and Sofyan Amrabat returning to the midfield.
Salernitana sit deep and don’t worry much about pressing until the ball is about 35 yards from their own goal. Nicola is part of the Iachini school of defensive masterminds: his teams tend to sit deep and narrow, using their discipline and patience to frustrate opponents. They’ve relied a lot on Luigi Sepe (another old friend) between the sticks, and he’s been quite good. Still, with all the injuries in the back line, you’d think that Fiorentina’s technical ability on the wings and new-found late runs from midfield should create some problems.
After only staying up on the final matchday by a single point last year, Salernitana were a popular pick for relegation this year. Instead, they’ve rocketed to 9th place with 17 points. They’re currently on a 3-match run without a loss, including a 1-3 pasting of Lazio in Rome, and they played Juventus to a draw earlier in the year as well. Turns out that the low-key fantastic mercato they had over the summer has paid massive dividends, and you have to think they’re a good bet to stay up for the 3rd straight year now, barring a collapse.
Manager Davide Nicola is missing a trio of defenders: Flavius Daniliuc, Norbert Gyömber, and Matteo Lovato. He’ll still set up his usual 3-5-2, featuring Senegal international Boulaye Dia (5 goals, 2 assists) as the main threat, with old friend Krzysztof Piątek as his sidekick. Antonio Candreva, now 35, has gracefully transitioned into a near-regista role, but still has plenty of quality on the ball. That works well, since right wingback Pasquale Mazzocchi (2 goals, 2 assists) has been on a tear this year as well.
Salernitana tend to attack very directly, using their deep block to open space for the nippy Dia. They’ll look to build down the wings and hit crosses as well, and they’re not afraid to have a pop from distance, particularly Candreva. As we’ve seen this year, Fiorentina tend to struggle against teams that play with 2 strikers, as it leaves the Viola centerbacks very isolated; if Salernitana can release that pair, they’ll definitely have chances to score, so that’ll likely be the main emphasis.
How to watch
TV: Check the international television listings, but probably not.
Online: Here is your list of safe, reliable, and legal streams.
Ted’s Memorial Blind Guess Department
Given that Salernitana are above Fiorentina in the table and are in a decent vein of form, you’d expect the oddsmakers to give them a bit more credit, but the Viola look to be prohibitive favorites in all the betting houses. If I’m honest, this is the type of game they tend to struggle in (opponent playing a deep block and a front two) and it looks like a classic landmine fixture (coming off 4 straight wins, AC Milan looming at the weekend before an extended layoff), so I’m not nearly as confident as the bookies.
Still, this is TMBGD, dammit, and there’s no room for anything but rictus optimism. Therefore, I’ll call it a 2-0 win for the good guys, with Barák opening the scoring and Arthur Cabral sewing it up off the bench in a game that the hosts mostly control but still concede several good chances on the counter. Here’s hoping.