Neither manager really sprang any surprises, although Fiorentina academy product Nicolò Zaniolo picked up a cold and was thus unavailable, resulting in young Edoardo Bove replacing him. The Viola didn’t spring any real surprises in the lineup as Nico González still isn’t fit enough to start.
Dodô got himself booked in the first three minutes for a shirt tug on Nicola Zalewski after losing the ball to the Italo-Polish youngster, which was foreshadowing of the highest order. AS Roma started out hot for the first 10 minutes but slowed down a bit, dropping deep and trying to play on the break. Just as the visitors began to take control, though, Dodô slid in on Zalewski way, way late, just earning his second yellow and putting his teammates in a really tough place.
Vincenzo Italiano gave Alfred Duncan the hook and introduced Lorenzo Venuti, leaving 3 attackers in a statement of positive intent, although Jonathan Ikoné did drop a bit deeper. Lorenzo Pellegrini came close with a volley while running in behind, but it was Paulo Dybala who proved decisive: the Argentina caught Tammy Abraham’s chest-down as sweetly as he could’ve, and the slightest of touches off Nikola Milenković left Pietro Terracciano in a bad place.
The Viola defended doggedly after the goal and didn’t allow many more chances, although Ikoné probably got away with a handball in his own penalty area under no pressure from anyone. When the break came, Fiorentina were probably relieved to trudge into the tunnel with just a one-goal deficit, although Roma’s defensive organization meant that an equalizer seemed quite unlikely.
Vincenzo Italiano brought in González and Antonín Barák for Luka Jović and Jonathan Ikoné at the break, moving to a fluid 4-3-2ish shape with no fixed striker, and to their credit, Fiorentina did a pretty good job frustrating Roma’s attack, and even created a few chances off of set pieces. Indeed, it felt like both teams were waiting for the other to make a mistake they could pounce on, and both had their chances: Cristiano Biraghi slipped on the ball, letting Dybala play Zeki Çelik in to smash one off the upright and Terracciano, while Edoardo Bove played in González, who squared for Bonaventura to have a shot that got blocked. As you’d expect from a Jose Mourinho team, slowing things down, fouling constantly, harassing the referee, and sitting very deep. That approach was proven correct when Abraham got in behind Igor and squared for Dybala to tap home for his second.
Paulo Dybala with his second goal of the match for AS Roma!pic.twitter.com/mR9IXdLERn— Roy Nemer (@RoyNemer) January 15, 2023
That was pretty much that. The Viola huffed and puffed and won some more corners and even came close off a couple—Milenković and Christian Kouamé present—but the early dismissal was clearly too deep of a hole to climb out of, and the game ended with the hosts as deserved winners.
Goals: Dybala 40’ (ass. Abraham) 82’ (ass. Abraham)
Cards: Smalling 15’, Kumbulla 55’, Bove 63’; Dodô 4’ 24’ (sent off), González 55’, Igor 79’
Fiorentina’s run of 3 straight without a loss in all competitions is now over. Dodô will obviously miss next week’s clash against Torino, with the winner laying claim to sole possession of 9th place; the Viola are even with the Granata on 23 points, with il Toro sporting the smallest of advantages in goal difference. More than anything, though, it’s a reminder to the team that everyone needs to be focused and firing on all cylinders for 90 minutes, because this league is too good to get away with such massive blunders.