Coming off a massive win at Napoli that could prove pivotal in the quest for European qualification, Fiorentina return home looking to maintain their momentum and maybe gain some revenge against Venezia, who sprung a shock win on them in the reverse fixture, which was their first meeting in 17 years.
The referee for this one is 36-year-old Rosario Abisso of Palermo. In 10 Serie A games this year, he’s issued 51 yellow cards, 4 red cards, and 2 penalties. In 11 matches under his watch, Fiorentina are W6 D2 L3. Last we saw him was 0-2 loss to Napoli last year, which featured him giving the bad guys a pretty weak penalty from a corner.
The match will be played on Saturday, 16 April 2022, at 2:30 PM GMT/10:30 AM EST, at the Stadio Artemio Franchi in beautiful Firenze. The forecast calls for a drop dead gorgeous afternoon, with some clouds to block the sun and temperatures of 34 C/75 F. Expect the raucous support that met the team at the platform after its win over Napoli to continue in the stands.
Delirio en Florencia con la llegada de la Fiorentina. Forza Viola pic.twitter.com/zU9md6npXy— ACF Fiorentina (@Sp_Fiorentina) April 10, 2022
It’s all smiles right now for Fiorentina, who’ve surged past Atalanta and into 7th place with 53 points (and a game against Udinese in hand), just 2 behind Lazio and the Conference League spot and 4 back from AS Roma and the Europa League. The good guys are picking up steam at the right time, having snatched 11 points from their previous 5 matches—including an impressive draw at Inter Milan and that win at Napoli—and seem to be gaining momentum.
Manager Vincenzo Italiano won’t have CM Giacomo Bonaventura but welcomes RB Álvaro Odriozola back into the fold. The Spaniard should replace Lorenzo Venuti in defense, while either Youssef Maleh or Alfred Duncan could join Gaetano Castrovilli and Lucas Torreira in midfield. While the red-hot Nicolás González should keep his place, the identity of the other winger and the striker remain shrouded in mystery: Riccardo Saponara, Riccardo Sottil, and Jonathan Ikoné will vie for the former, while Arthur Cabral will try to hold off Krzysztof Piątek for the latter.
After their success in the reverse fixture, expect Venezia to press high and furiously in hopes of discomfiting the Viola from playing out; the additions of Torreira, Igor, and Nico should make it much easier for Italiano’s men to work the ball forward. If the hosts can play through that pressure, they should have a lot of chances, as the Arancioneroverdi are a bad defensive team (57 goals conceded) and frequently resort to tactical fouling (second in bth yellow and red cards). They simply look disorganized at the back a lot of the time and don’t have the quality to stick with guys like González and Ikoné.
After a bright start to their first Serie A campaign in nearly 2 decades, Venezia have flagged badly through the second half of the season. They’re in the final relegation spot with 22 points, 3 behind Cagliari for safety, and although they have a game in hand on the Sardinians, they know they’re up against it. They’ve lost 6 straight, scoring just 3 and conceding 13 in that stretch. While that might make them look like easy prey, you can never count out the Dumutru Effect.
Manager Paolo Zanetti won’t have GK Sergio Romero, GK Luca Lezzerini, CB Marco Modolo, CB Ethan Ampadu, RB Tyronne Ebuehi, DM Antonio Vacca, or LW Arnór Sigurðsson. He’s shown a willingess to change formations all year but will probably stick with his favorite 4-3-3 here. The danger men are the tridente of target man Thomas Henry (7 goals, 2 assists), speedster David Okereke (6 goals), and schemer Mattia Aramu (5 goals, 4 assists). There are some other interesting names on the roster—Gianluca Busio, Nani, Michaël Cuisance—but they’re more curiosities than anything right now.
Venezia’s decent in possession and happy to keep it at the back, inviting the press, but often bypasses the midfield when it arrives. They’ll either aim for the strapping Henry, hoping he can hold off a defender and bring the wingers into play, or play into space for Okereke or Aramu to latch onto. They’ll doubtless look to go over the top of Fiorentina’s high line so expect a nervous moment or two when they get it right, but a lot of their attack will probably rely on their pressing as well. If they can gain possession close to Pietro Terracciano’s goal or win second balls in midfield off clearances from the back, they’ll be quite pleased.
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Ted’s Memorial Blind Guess Department
Fiorentina are massive favorites here, obviously. They’re a better team in better form playing at home and looking to avenge a loss earlier this year. Since neither side has been especially high-scoring of late, I’m predicting a 2-0 win for the good guys, with a Cabral penalty and a Castrovilli goal providing the margin.
Expect a tense affair as Fiorentina fight for Europe and Venezia for survival. I’m expecting it to be pretty open, which will likely mean a lot of fouls, and the Viola should pretty well shade possession. Don’t be surprised if someone’s sent off, either, as these sides have earned the most red cards in the league this year.