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Another Assessment of Fiorentina’s European Hopes

With just three matches remaining, the Viola’s chances at Europe are much clearer (and a little lower than before)

AC Milan v ACF Fiorentina - Serie A Photo by Sportinfoto/vi/DeFodi Images via Getty Images

Remember when I wrote this article estimating Fiorentina’s chances of European qualification? Since then, the Viola have chosen the “combust spectacularly” option, losing four in a row and bowing out of the Coppa Italia. Still, a tight league race remains, concerning Fiorentina as well as Roma, Lazio, and Atalanta.

Fiorentina isn’t the only one of these clubs performing poorly in crunch time. Since my last article, Roma has taken just two points from three league matches, Lazio four from three, and Atalanta five from four.

This leaves the league table extremely close heading into the last three matches of the season.

Serie A League Table with Tiebreakers, Positions 5-8

Position Team Points Roma Tiebreaker Lazio Tiebreaker Fiorentina Tiebreaker Atalanta Tiebreaker Goal Difference
Position Team Points Roma Tiebreaker Lazio Tiebreaker Fiorentina Tiebreaker Atalanta Tiebreaker Goal Difference
Europa League Roma 59 N/A Yes TBD Yes 15
Europa League Lazio 59 No N/A Yes Even 17
Conference League Fiorentina 56 TBD No N/A Yes 7
No Europe Atalanta 56 No Even No N/A 18

I’m going to go about this a little differently than last time. I’ll go through the schedule of each of our three rivals, and what we’d have to do to finish above them.

Roma

Although Jose Mourinho’s men have stumbled as of late, it’s easy to forgive them given the competition they’ve played. Napoli and Inter back to back followed by an away trip to Leicester for the semifinals of the Conference League is not easy, and it makes sense the Giallorossi dropped critical points in a scoreless draw against Bologna on Sunday.

Most importantly for Viola fans, Fiorentina and Roma do play each other next week, with the tiebreaker, and most importantly three points, on the line. About that tiebreaker, though. Since Roma won 3-1 in Rome back in the opening match of the season, the Viola would need to win by two to make the tiebreaker even, and win by three to outright clinch it. However, the next tiebreaker is goal differential, and Roma currently holds an eight-goal edge in that department. So, realistically, Fiorentina needs to win by three against Roma on Saturday to clinch the tiebreaker. And, realistically, that’s not going to happen. So, we can safely assume that Roma will hold the tiebreaker over Fiorentina when all is said and done.

Now, if Fiorentina loses against Roma on Monday, they would be six points behind the Giallorossi with no tiebreaker and guaranteed to finish behind them. If Fiorentina draw, they would be three points back with no tiebreaker. In this scenario, Fiorentina would need to amass four more points at Sampdoria and home to Juventus than Roma at home to Venezia and away to Torino. That would only plausibly happen should Roma draw Venezia and not beat Torino, while the Viola win out. I just don’t see that happening, so we can rule out this pathway as well.

If the Viola were to win, we would just need to amass more points than Roma over the last two matches of the season. Once again, this relies on us winning out and Roma dropping points against Torino, which could happen.

Now, to be a little more precise than last time, I’m going to use 538’s odds. There are some things I don’t like about this model- it incorporates Transfermarkt values too heavily for one. Still, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a better, more accessible model out there, so it’s more than enough for our purposes.

Even if Fiorentina beat Roma on Saturday, 538 gives the Giallorossi a 58% chance to earn at least four points in the two matches after. What this means is that even in the case of a win on Monday, we can’t expect to pass Roma. Thus, barring very expected circumstances, we’ll be finishing behind Roma.

Lazio

Remember when I was groaning about Vincenzo Italiano starting Matija Nastasic and Josè Callejón in our match against Lazio last February? That’s because that match was extremely important, and with the tiebreaker over the Viola, Lazio is almost sure to finish ahead of us now.

Fiorentina needs four more points from their final three matches than Lazio in order to surpass them. The only realistic scenario in which I envision this happening is if Lazio gain just three points from their final three matches against Sampdoria, Juventus, and Verona, and we win seven. Unlikely? Yes. Impossible? No. Other scenarios involve either us winning out (very unlikely) or Lazio stumbling horrifically and not winning again this season (also very unlikely). Unfortunately, the odds of any of these scenarios are so low that we can’t count on it. Once again, don’t expect the Viola to finish ahead of Lazio this season.

Atalanta

Here’s where things get a lot more interesting. Gian Piero Gasperini was as dramatic as ever after his side’s 1-1 draw against Salernitana yesterday.

“In the meantime, it is clear that in this return there was a feeling that time was passing. So many players have left, it is difficult for Atalanta to remain at a high level for so long. In six years we have made €150 million in profits, the other €600 million in debts.”

The result leaves La Dea level on points with Fiorentina. Crucially, the Viola owns the tiebreaker after two great wins earlier this season. This means that if Fiorentina can win as many points as Atalanta over the last three matches of the season, they will qualify for Europe.

Atalanta’s remaining schedule also should give us hope: away to Spezia next Sunday in the lunch-time game will be far from easy, and after that, La Dea hosts the league leaders in Milan. Empoli at home on the final day will likely be a victory, but even so, it’s difficult to see Atalanta gaining more than six points from these final three matches.

This gives Fiorentina a clear path to Europe: beat Sampdoria and one of Roma or Juventus. 538 gives Fiorentina a (1-.63*.62)*.49=.298, or 30% chance of that happening. While still unlikely, Fiorentina has a clear roadmap to Europe thanks to Atalanta’s slipups.

If you can, try and watch Atalanta at Spezia this weekend. I have a feeling the result there will determine Fiorentina’s qualification.

Why Europe?

On the one hand, it’s easy to admit defeat and roll over. Fiorentina does seem to be collapsing again at the wrong time. In addition, the club has already overachieved this season, so who really cares whether we qualify or not?

On the other hand, these next three matches are seriously important. Regardless of what happens, Fiorentina will be overhauled this summer, more significantly than last. Players such as José Callejón, Krzysztof Piątek, Sofyan Amrabat, Álvaro Odriozola, Nikola Milenković, and Bartłomiej Drągowski are all more likely than not to be leaving. Serious investment will need to be made, and recruiting players with European football is a much easier sell than without it.

Next, consider our manager, Vincenzo Italiano. Despite some rumors, is he ready for a top club in Italy right now? I’d say no. However, a year from now, I expect him to be. And once that moment comes and clubs such as Napoli and Roma come calling, the Viola will be in a much better position to convince him to stay having built off of European qualification this year and presumably building a stronger team as a result this summer.

Finally, the Viola have been seriously unlucky in some cases. Losing all four of Jack Bonaventura, Gaetano Castrovilli, Lucas Torreira, and Odriozola in our recent matches has not been talked about enough around here. In addition, there’s an annoying pattern of our rivals scoring at the last minute, such as Lazio against Torino and Spezia, Atalanta against Salernitana, and Roma against Napoli.

With a week to rest, and hopefully a clean injury list bar Castrovilli, this team will be in great shape to compete for the rest of the season. The performance against Milan on Sunday shows they care greatly, and now it’s about the final stretch. We’re still in with a chance, so let’s take advantage of it.