Fresh off the shocking failure to beat RFS at home, Fiorentina travel north to Bologna for the Derby dell’Appennino. In 152 previous meetings, the Viola hold a record of W59 D50 L43. Weirdly enough, they haven’t lost to the Oscar Mayers since 2013, a run of 16 without defeat, including a 2-3 triumph in this fixture last year.
The referee for this one is 46-year-old Daniele Orsato of Vicenza. In 4 appearances this year, he’s handed out 15 yellow cards, but no red cards or penalties; an uncharitable observer might say that he’s due for a wild one. In 39 matches under his direction, Fiorentina are W9 D13 L17. Last we saw him was that ugly 0-3 loss to Lazio last year, when he sent off Lucas Torreira for dissent late on.
The match will be played on Sunday, 11 September 2022, at 2:00 PM EST/9:00 AM EST, at the Stadio Renato Dall’Ara in Bologna. The forecast calls for a warm day with temperatures hopefully staying under 30C/80F and some scattered clouds; in short, the perfect conditions for a spirited derby.
It’s been a turbulent season for the Rossoblù, who’ve already parted ways long-time manager Siniša Mihajlović after failing to register a win in their first 5 league outings and just barely squeezing past Serie B’s Cosenza in the Coppa Italia. While they probably haven’t been quite as bad as their record shows, the Saputos had seen enough to decide that 16th place, even at this early stage, just isn’t good enough.
It looks like Miroslav Tanjga will take over for this one. He’ll probably continue with the 3-5-2 shape that his predecessor had been using and focus on the usual things an interim boss does: getting back to the basics, keeping it tight at the back, and letting the attackers cook. The dangerman is clearly Marko Arnautović, who’s scored all 5 of Bologna’s goals this year, although you’d have to think that Musa Barrow, Riccardo Orsolini, and Nicola Sansone, you’d expect threats from other avenues as well.
Arnautović is a big, powerful striker who occupies defenders, allowing the other members of the tridente to make runs off him. They’ve mostly kept the ball on the carpet, looking to work it forward quickly and then switch play to a wingback or forward in space. They’ve also got some tricky dribblers to attack an engaged defense. Quite frankly, this squad has too much attacking talent to languish for much longer, and the Viola will have to be quite good to keep them out.
It’s been a deeply underwhelming start to the year for Fiorentina, who sit in 11th place—2 points behind Salernitana, of all teams—with 6 points from their first 5 matches. While the defense has proven capable of blanking Napoli’s terrifying attack, we’ve also seen some fragile moments at the back. The real problem, though, is up front: the Viola have failed to score in 3 of their 5 league games and look a bit toothless up front.
Manager Vincenzo Italiano has an injury crisis to deal with too: CB Nikola Milenković, RB Marco Benassi, CM Alfred Duncan, CM Szymon Żurkowski, CM Gaetano Castrovilli, and LW Nicolás González. Igor should return to solidify the back line, but the fullbacks may be rotated after playing 180 minutes over the past week. The real interest, though, is the attack: Riccardo Sottil and Christian Kouamé have looked far and away the most dangerous wingers, and it’d be nice to see if they can get something going with Arthur Cabral, who’s looked much livelier than Luka Jović.
Bologna like to build from the back, which should play right into Fiorentina’s hands. Expect the visitors to focus on attacking at transitions. They’ll also probably cross the ball way too often; they’ve been Serie A’s crossiest team so far, although that’s not a great approach with a single striker going up against 3 large defenders. The real question should be if the wingers can get themselves isolated against the centerbacks; if they can, they should find some joy in those battles.
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Ted’s Memorial Blind Guess Department
This one looks pretty close. Fiorentina are very slight favorites among most of the bookies, likely because they didn’t just sack their manager and because this weird streak of success (or at least non-failure) against Bologna is the kind of thing that oddsmakers seem to weight a bit too much.
Even though it feels like tempting fate, I’ll say that the good guys just about grind out the win here. I’m calling it a 0-1, with Ricky Sottil scoring the winner in a game that features a lot of fouls and even a sending off. That Felsineo defense has been pretty bad and Fiorentina’s has looked relatively good, and I think that’s probably what wins this one.