While Paolo Zanetti sent out the expected lineup, the real story was the visitors: Vincenzo Italiano made a staggering 9 changes from the team that beat Twente on Thursday, including first-ever starts for Dodô and Rolando Mandragora.
Empoli came out looking a bit better, pinning Fiorentina back for the opening quarter hour without really threatening, but the visitors grew into the game and started keeping the ball well enough. However, their strategy of working it to the wingers failed, as neither Jonathan Ikoné nor Riccardo Saponara were able to do much of anything, although the former did miss a glorious chance carved out by a great run by Aleksa Terzić. Empoli had a chance as well, just before the end, but Mattia Destro whiffed on a diving header when completely open. Scoreless at the break felt about right, given the lack of quality on display.
It was more of the same after the hour mark, when Sebastiano Luperto was sent off after a VAR review; he’d misjudged a long ball, let it get by him, and then hauled down Luka Jović as the last defender. Moments later, referee Matteo Marchetti pulled up, necessitating a long break while fourth official Juan Luca Sacchi took over. Not long after, substitute Riccardo Sottil got into the box and was clearly fouled, but a VAR check confirmed a handball in the buildup. Fiorentina spent the remainder of the match dribbling down their own legs, failing to register a shot on goal until the 9th minute of stoppage when Mandragora had a blast from distance that almost caught Guglielmo Vicario napping. Quite frankly, this was such a flaccid performance that the Viola didn’t deserve anything, and that’s what they got.
Goals: hahahaha no
Cards: Bandinelli 32’; Ikoné 37’, Luperto red card 66’; Maleh 39’, Sottil 73’
While the Derby dell’Arno is always much more difficult than it might otherwise seem, Italiano absolutely dropped 2 points here by refusing to tilt his team into a more attacking shape. The only silver lining is that he’ll have a very fresh squad ready for Twente on Thursday, although with Napoli lurking 3 days later, this kind of rotation clearly isn’t an option: the Partenopei would probably put 10 past the team we saw today without conceding a shot.