After losing to Sassuolo (with an assist from referee Alessandro Prontera) in stultifying fashion, Fiorentina have to get back up for the Coppa Italia semifinal against Juventus; this is maybe the biggest game the club’s had since crashing out of the Europa League, so no pressure. While the Viola hold an all-time record of W40 D58 L87 against the Notts County cosplayers, including a W2 D2 L6 mark in their past 10 meetings, the good guys have played them tough of late, When they met in Turin back in November, it was the Juvenuts who came away with a last-gasp goal, although there were a lot of eyebrows raised by the refereeing.
The referee for this one is 40-year-old Marco Guida of Torre Annunziata. In 9 Serie A games this year, he’s issued 38 yellow cards, 2 red cards, and 2 penalties. Fiorentina hold a record of W7 D5 L7 under his watch; last we saw him was the astounding 4-3 win over AC Milan earlier this year, in which he was fine, but he’s definitely not popular in Florence for some of his performances. Don’t be surprised if he refuses to check VAR for a penalty incident or if he lets the Bianconeri off the hook once or twice, as he did back in 2018 when these two played each other.
The match will be played on Wednesday, 2 March 2022, at 8:00 PM GMT/3:00 PM EST, at the Stadio Artemio Franchi in beautiful Firenze. The forecast calls for clear, chilly conditions that should make every blade of grass visible and every polite greeting to an unnamed Serbian striker audible. Buckle in.
After that stinging loss at the Mapei, Fiorentina are down to 7 points from their past 5 league matches, although handling Atalanta twice in that span indicates that things aren’t quite as bad as they might look, especially since the Viola trotted out a second-choice XI on Saturday. With a clash against high-flying Hellas Verona looming on Sunday, the guys need to buckle in and get this one right. On the positive side, they’ve suffered a frustrating loss just ahead of notching upsets in the Coppa this year, so you’d think they’re on track for this one.
Manager Vincenzo Italiano won’t have CB Lucas Martínez Quarta but should have everyone else. Expect Lucas Torreira and Nicolás González to return, while Nikola Milenković and Giacomo Bonaventura should be out there as well. The only real questions are at goalkeeper, rightback, and left wing, although Italiano’s penchant for chopping and changing may be on full display here as he tries to catch his opponent off guard.
With Matthijs de Ligt and Leonardo Bonucci at the back, crossing for Krzysztof Piątek probably isn’t a valid strategy. Instead, expect the big Pole to try to occupy one or two defenders to free up Nicolás González; if the Argentina international can get to and win some 1-v-1s, Fiorentina should have a good chance to get something here.
Undefeated in 14 league matches, it looks like the Bianconeri are surging up the table and could even take a run at the top spot, just as we might’ve feared. While they’ve been quite impressive in not losing, though, they’ve looked shakier than you’d expect, especially when you take into account their form in the Coppa and in the Champions League, where they’ve coasted on luck for a bit; in fairness, they do seem to get more than their fair share of fortune, so maybe we shouldn’t be surprised.
Manager Max Allegri won’t have CB Giorgio Chiellini, CB Daniele Rugani, LB Alex Sandro, CM Weston McKennie, CM Denis Zakaria, RW Federico Chiesa, CF Paulo Dybala, or CF Kaio Jorge. With so many injuries, he’s pretty much stuck using a 4-4-2 that rests entirely on a couple of former Fiorentina players: Juan Cuadrado and Dušan Vlahović.
Even with so many players absent, though, Juve are still an Allegri team: well-drilled at the back and more than happy to grind out results. Expect the visitors to look for Susan early and often, trying to find space in behind for him and Álvaro Morata. Otherwise, it’ll be Johnny Squared looking to make something happen with the ball at his feet, which, as we know, he’s quite capable of. This could be a good opportunity to test out the same defensive system that the Viola used against Atalanta, as it’ll provide a spare man at the back, although Italiano may prefer to have Cristiano Biraghi stay high up and force Cuadrado back.
How to watch
TV: If you get any Serie A channels, give them a shot, I guess, but you’ll probably have to stream this one. Check the full international television listings to be sure, though.
Online: Here is your list of safe, reliable, and legal streams.
Ted’s Memorial Blind Guess Department
Despite all their injuries and the fact that they’ll be facing what’s shaping up to a be a legendarily hostile atmosphere, most bookies have Juventus as pretty big favorites, which seems iffy. Expect a tough, gritty game with a lot of fouls. If I’m being honest, I have a lot of trouble believing that Guida won’t be an enormous factor here, either with the cards or in awarding penalties, so that could be the swing here.
I’ll back the underdog here and say that Fiorentina win it 1-0 behind a Nico goal. It should be a tense match, as Fiorentina will want to keep the ball and open things up, while Juve will try to slow it down and hit on the break. It feels like whoever can impose their preferred tempo is going to have a big advantage in this one, but again, my money’s on Guida having something to do with the final score.