Pietro Terracciano—6: Saved four shots and showed good positioning while commanding the eighteen-yard box. He had one very sketchy moment midway through the second half, where he nearly gifted the Nerazzurri a goal, but he played his way out of it and otherwise was solid.
Lorenzo Venuti—5: His positioning was suspect at times, especially when he left Ivan Perisic alone in acres of space in the 62nd minute. As expected, he didn’t offer much going forwards, but still was smart in possession and won a team-high three tackles.
Nikola Milenković—6.5: It’s always good when there’s not much to say about the performance of a center-back. Milenković is tailor-made for Italiano-ball, and has grown in his distribution ability this season. A silly yellow card in the 38th minute wasn’t ideal, but he showed great discipline in the second half to not put himself in any situations to be sent off.
Igor—6.5: Since the new year it’d be hard to argue against Igor being Fiorentina’s most-improved player. Similar to Milenković, his combination of physical ability and on-ball finesse is lovely to watch, and it was on full display today. He still has the odd mistake in him, but at this point, I feel more comfortable with him starting than LMQ.
Cristiano Biraghi—5: His defense is still suspect, as seen by his miscommunication with Alfred Duncan on Denzel Dumfries’ goal. That was a very basic error and cost the Viola dearly, although his solid attacking play down the flank boosts his rating slightly.
Gaetano Castrovilli—6.5: I think it’s official that Castro is beginning to regain his form. With Jack Bonaventura suspended, Tanino took his spot and didn’t miss a beat. He provides a dribbling ability that Jack doesn’t have, but most importantly is beginning to look much more decisive on the ball. This culminated in a beautifully disguised pass to Nico which led to a hockey assist. I still am not a fan of him and Jack playing together, but if Youssef Maleh and Alfred Duncan continue to have average performances, than there may be no better option.
Lucas Torreira—8: What. A. Match. I’ll give him an extra half a point for losing a tooth. Torreira was everywhere in the midfield, helping in attack while shielding the defense. A great late run into the box earned him his second goal in as many matches, and it’s a privilege to watch him play for the Viola.
Alfred Duncan—5.5: Duncan’s lowlight was the same as Biraghi, a bad miscommunication on Inter’s goal. Otherwise, he was not very involved, providing good energy but little else. Heading into the summer mercato, his position is the first on the list I’d like to see upgraded.
Nico González—6: Let’s try and forget about that cross into our own box which nearly gifted Inter a goal at the beginning of the second half. Still, Nico was his usual self, a combination of being a terror dribbling and terrible finishing. He had the best chance of the first half for Fiorentina, but took too much time and launched the ball straight into Milan Škriniar. A great cross across the box got him a deserved assist. Hopefully, he can start playing on his preferred left-hand side in the future.
Krzysztof Piątek—4.5: An invisible performance from the Pole. I don’t want to be too hard on him, as we saw several similar matches from a certain Serbian early on in the season, but he was far too isolated for my liking. Is it all his fault? No, certainly some of the blame like with the wingers and midfielders for not feeding him the ball more often. Still, when someone who is more suited to link-up play like Arthur Cabral is sitting on the bench, he’s going to have to keep scoring if he’s to keep his place in the starting XI.
Riccardo Saponara—5: Not a good match from the Cheese. He tested Handanovic a couple of times early, but his lack of athleticism was noticeable against Denzel Dumfries and Danilo D’Ambrosio. A wasteful cross in the 61st minute was a lowlight for me. There’s a time and place for players like Saponara, but against quality teams he should not start from the outset.
Jonathon Ikonè—6.5: Nearly pulled off a miracle in the last moments of the match, and always looked dangerous on the ball. However, he and Piątek do seem to have some chemistry issues as both were frustrated with each other’s movements and passing. He needs to be getting more minutes, period.
Arthur Cabral, José Callejón, Lucas Martínez Quarta: N/A
All three only played a handful of minutes.
Three things we learned
1. The attack needs to be reshuffled
I’m going to sing Vincenzo Italiano’s praises later on, don’t worry. But is inexplicable to me how we have yet to see Nico González and Jonathon Ikoné play consistent minutes on the wings together for the Viola. Their combination of pace and directness will terrify any Serie A defense, and if either player can learn how to finish anytime soon, they’ll be sold for at least €35 million to the highest bidder. Italiano refusing to play them together perplexes me, as this would have been the perfect time to do so. As mentioned above, Saponara was fairly invisible, and Nico has always looked much more comfortable on the left-hand side. Hopefully, a journalist can ask Italiano this exact question so we can figure out what’s going on.
In addition, Krzysztof Piątek had a hot start, but this match may have been his worst yet for Fiorentina. I would have been fine with seeing him subbed out for Arthur Cabral at halftime, and was stunned to see Italiano wait to make that switch until the 90th minute. Cabral has an ability to combine in the build-up phase of the game which Piątek lacks, and deserves at least a start over the Pole at this point. So here’s hoping next match we see the González-Cabral-Ikonè frontline we deserve.
2. This team is just fine after January
Since Dušan Vlahovic’s unceremonious departure at the end of January, Fiorentina has played eight Serie A matches and gained 12 points. In the first round of the campaign, Viola against these same exact clubs, the Viola also won 12 points. There’s no doubt the team has taken a slight step back on the field since Dušan’s departure. Today was a great example of that, as Piątek struggled to involve himself in the match and didn’t have a single chance. However, Vincenzo Italiano has improved this team so much since the fall that even with Dušan’s absence, the club is winning points at the same rate and still has an outside shot for Europe. The Lazio match in February, our first without Dušan, reset my expectations for the season to be much lower. While Italiano’s substitution patterns today were weird, the fact that the Viola are still on the cusp of the top seven is proof that he is the best acquisition of Rocco’s ownership.
3. Lucas Torreira’s option needs to be redeemed right now
When Lucas Torreira was announced as a Fiorentina signing this summer, I was ecstatic. Finally, we had the quality holding midfielder we needed to push up the table. Amazingly, he’s exceeded my expectations and has become the heart of the team both on and off the field. Not only did he score Fiorentina’s goal today, but at some point during the match he lost one of his front teeth! After the match he posted the most iconic Fiorentina related tweet of the season:
+ 1 - #Antidoping pic.twitter.com/I808NrOSkg— Lucas Torreira #LT14 (@LTorreira34) March 19, 2022
There have been some rumors floating around in recent days that Joe Barone and Daniele Pradè are looking for a discount on the Viola’s €15 million buy option for Torreira from Arsenal. Let’s hope those aren’t true, as Fiorentina should be willing to pay that sum in a heartbeat. Players like Torreira, who have great quality and love the city of Florence, are hard to come by, and we need to try as hard as possible to make him a long-term fixture in the Viola midfield.