Vincenzo Italiano opted for Pierluigi Gollini, Luca Ranieri, and Aleksa Terzić at the back, indicating that maybe he’s not too fussed about the Coppa Italia. Sofyan Amrabat made his first start since the World Cup, and Luka Jović was healthy enough to start as well. Dejan Stanković rotated heavily as well, notably bringing in a couple of Primavera players in Flavio Paoletti and Daniele Montevago.
Also of interest: Fiorentina owner Rocco Commisso was back in the stands for the first time in 2023, although the Stadio Artemio Franchi was only half-full, as you’d expect for a match that started at 6:00 PM on a Wednesday, although the Curva Fiesole has been protesting Serie A’s banning of 25 Viola fans for their part in a fracas against Lazio supporters last February, and that might’ve dampened some enthusiasm among the ultras.
It was a rather cagey start more than anything else, with neither side really stamping their authority on the proceedings. The first good chance didn’t arrive until nearly 20 minutes in, when Tomás Rincón headed off the crossbar after Gollini waved at a corner. The opening goal came rather out of nothing, though, as Terzić crossed back into the box following an attacking free kick. The ball bounced around a bit until Antonín Barák lashed home with a lovely strike from about 10 yards out for his 4th non-Serie A goal of the year.
Antonín Barák HIT that.— CBS Sports Golazo ⚽️ (@CBSSportsGolazo) January 12, 2023
His second Coppa Italia goal is one to remember. pic.twitter.com/Ec2zErZiRV
The goal seemed to settle the Viola, who established their primacy, knocking the ball around and pinning Sampdoria back. Alfred Duncan crossed for Christian Kouamé, who headed narrowly wide, but it was Jović thought he’d scored his 8th of the year but saw it ruled out for offside despite the final touch coming off a Samp defender. The Serbian then rifled wide from close range after somehow coming down with a high ball between two defenders. In short, it felt like the second was just a matter of time, although it sure would’ve been nice to add it before the break.
Stanković clearly wasn’t happy with his side’s performance and brought on Sam Lammers and Tommaso Augello for Montevago and Valerio Verre. The latter’s willingess to stay wide stretched Fiorentina’s defense, giving Sampdoria a glimpse of hope, especially when Jović and Kouamé both missed presentable chances. Amrabat nearly gave away the equalizer with an ill-advised touch for Gollini as Sampdoria increased the pressure, coming closest when a miscommunication let Filip Đuričić glide in and blast into Nikola Milenković. Aside from a header that Nicolás González glanced wide, the Viola more or less saw it out with minimal fuss, although Jeison Murillo made it easier by clipping González in stoppage time for his second yellow card.
Goals: Barák 25’
Cards: Amrabat 32’; Sabiri 24’, Murillo 54’ 90’+2, Rincón 88’, Contini 90’+7
The win means that Fiorentina will take on Torino in the next round, as il Toro knocked out AC Milan yesterday. We don’t have a date and time for that fixture yet, but it’ll be sometime between Tuesday, 31 January, and Thursday, 2 February. The Viola are now 3 wins away from hoisting the Coppa, which would represent their first trophy since winning the domestic cup in 2001.
It was exactly the kind of controlled performance against an inferior opponent that a good side produces against a woeful one. Just as important, though, is that Italiano managed to rest some of his key starters ahead of a big Serie A clash against AS Roma. The concern, of course, is that Fiorentina have added another name to an already-lengthy injury list, as Lucas Martínez Quarta was forced off after a collision with Bruno Amione.