Fresh off another disappointing defeat, albeit against a superior opponent, Fiorentina are desperate to stop their rotten streak of 3 straight losses. Unfortunately, they’ll come up against AS Roma in what sure looks like a European 6-pointer. In 190 previous meetings, the Viola are W57 D56 L67, including 5 straight defeats against the Giallorossi. The reverse fixture was a pulsating affair that ended in a 3-1 loss that felt more than a little unfair.
The referee for this one is 40-year-old Marco Guida of Torre Annunziata. In 13 Serie A matches this year, he’s handed out 65 yellow cards, 2 red cards, and 3 penalties. He’s also been involved numerous high-profile decisions over the past couple of years, so don’t be surprised if he turns in a clanger here. Under his watch, Fiorentina are W7 D5 L8; last we saw him was the first leg of the Coppa Italia semifinals against Juventus.
The match will be played on Monday, 9 May 2022, at 6:45 PM GMT/2:45 PM EST at the Stadio Artemio Franchi in beautiful Firenze. The forecast calls for a rather warm and damp spring day. The rain shouldn’t be an issue, but it could get a little muggy, even in the evening. On the plus side, it’s probably going to look lovely.
Yep, it’s 3 losses on the bounce in the league, and 4 if you count the Coppa Italia semifinal. Even so, Fiorentina are hanging onto 7th place with 56 points. That’s even with Atalanta (although the Viola own the tiebreaker) and 3 behind Roma; a win here would give Fiorentina control of their own destiny with regards to European qualification.
Manager Vincenzo Italiano won’t have RB Álvaro Odriozola, CM Gaetano Castrovilli, or LW Riccardo Sottil, while CM Giacomo Bonaventura might be fit enough only for the bench. As ever, it’ll be a 4-3-3; the only real question is whether Jonathan Ikoné or Riccardo Saponara will start on the left wing. This being Italiano, there’s always a chance he decides to shake things up a bit, especially if he thinks some changes could help snap his charges out of their funk.
Having seen how much Fiorentina have struggled to break down a deep defense of late, the Giallorossi are likely to sit deep and look to frustrate the Viola, whose lack of midfield creativity has been a major weakness. With three big, rugged defenders, high crosses probably aren’t a great route, so trying to work cutbacks could be the plan. It’s also worth noting that Roma’s 106 yellow cards and 8 red cards both lead the league (albeit the latter even with Fiorentina), so set pieces could be really important too.
While a tight 1-0 win over Leicester City means that Roma will compete with Feyenoord to win the inaugural Conference League title, the capital club’s domestic form hasn’t been as impressive. They’re winless in 3 straight and will doubtless want all 3 points to ensure qualification to the Europa League in case they stumble against Feyenoord in a few weeks, especially after spending over €100 million in transfer fees alone this year.
Manager Jose Mourinho won’t have AM Henrikh Mkhitaryan but should have the rest of the squad available. Given how much he rotated the side against Bologna last time out, the midweek fixture against the Foxes may not force him into as many changes as you’d expect. He’ll have to make some choices in central midfield and at the wingback spots, but nothing too drastic. The dangermen are CF Tammy Abraham (15 goals, 4 assists) and AM Lorenzo Pellegrini (8 goals, 2 assists), but there’s enough quality in the side that trying to shut down one or two players will just leave spaces for others to shine.
The wingbacks get forward fairly well but tend to stay wide and cross rather than crash the box, while the double pivot generally screens the defense rather than bursts forward. That means the attacking will come down to the tridente. Each attacker is good in space, albeit in different ways: Abraham brings sheer pace and intelligent movement, Zaniolo’s a monster ball-carrier when he builds up a head of steam, and Pellegrini can pick out runs with the best of them. The Fiorentina midfield will need to stay very organized and minimize space between the lines to slow down the latter pair, while Nikola Milenković and Igor will likely have to play on the turn quite a bit for the former.
How to watch
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Ted’s Memorial Blind Guess Department
Roma are slight favorites here, but the bookmakers generally have it pretty close. These are two evenly-matched teams, or would be if Fiorentina were at full strength. Even so, I’m going to take the underdog and say that Fiorentina dig deep and pull out a 2-1 win because the gambler’s fallacy says they have to win one again some time, right? Let’s say that an early goal from Arthur Cabral forces Roma out a bit and they equalize through Zaniolo (of course), but Lucas Torreira pops up to scramble home a late winner. Please?