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Fiorentina vs Monza: Preview

The Viola finally, finally, finally emerge from the break with a match against the newly-promoted Biancorossi.

ACF Fiorentina v FC Lugano - Friendly Match Photo by Matteo Ciambelli/DeFodi Images via Getty Images

52 days after their last real game, Fiorentina are, at long last, back in action following an idiotic World Cup. Their opponent is newly-promoted, big-spending Monza. In 10 previous meetings, the Viola hold a W7 D1 L2 edge. The most recent meeting was in the Coppa Italia in 2019, when the good guys came back to win 3-1, inspired by Dušan Vlahović and Tòfol Montiel (RIP).

The referee for this one is 23-year-old Ermanno Feliciani of Teramo. This will be just his second-ever Serie A match—indeed, he’s only worked five in Serie B—so we don’t know much about him. The stats indicated that he’s pretty slow to reach for his pocket or point to the spot, though, so Monza might try to get away with some reducers to get Fiorentina off their game.

The match will be played on Wednesday, 4 January 2023, at 5:30 PM GMT/12:30 PM EST, at the Stadio Artemio Franchi in beautiful Firenze. The forecast calls for a lovely winter day, with scattered clouds and a break in the grey drizzle just in time for kickoff as temperatures hover around 15˚C/55˚F; it really feels like even the weather is welcoming the Viola back to action.


Who? Oh yeah, Fiorentina. Currently in 10th place with 19 points with 9 of those coming in their last 5 league meetings (along with a couple of big wins in the Conference League), it felt like the team was finally starting to hit its stride when the break arrived. It’s now a matter of resuming that form, which is obviously much easier said than done. While the boys looked decent in their friendlies over the past month, those performances are pretty meaningless compared with games that matter, so let’s see how they do.

Manager Vincenzo Italiano won’t have RW Nicolás González or LW Riccardo Sottil, while RB Dodô, DM Sofyan Amrabat, DM Rolando Mandragora, and CM Gaetano Castrovilli are all questionable. It’ll be the usual 4-2-3-1, of course, with Antonín Barák likely starting as the 10. There’ve been rumors that Christian Kouamé has displaced Luka Jović and Arthur Cabral at striker, but we’ll have to wait and see if that’s the case. Expect a start for Alfred Duncan in the middle, especially if Amrabat and/or Mandragora can’t go, while Lorenzo Venuti could fill in for Dodô if the Brazilian can’t get ready in time.

Monza like to press relatively high and man mark all over the pitch, which should suit Fiorentina just fine. They’ll try to harry opponents into mistakes and force them wide, and a lot of their attacking impetus comes from turning teams over high up and charging the other way. Given the attacking threat their wingbacks carry, the Viola will likely keep at least one winger very high up as the outlet (paging Jonathan Ikoné), hoping to isolate him against a slower defender. It could be difficult to play through the middle, as Monza try to pack that area, so don’t be shocked to see a lot of action down the wings when the good guys have the ball.


While it’s tough to root against newly-promoted sides sometimes, Monza are already pretty villainous, seeing as how the represent the return to prominence of Silvio Berlusconi, who remains as loathsome as ever at 86 years old. The Biancorossi spent big in the summer and will probably do so again this month, looking to solidify their position in the top flight. They currently sit 14th with 16 points and, like Fiorentina, have won 3 of their past 5 as they find their feet.

Manager Raffaele Palladino won’t have CM Stefano Sensi but will have everyone else. He uses a fluid 3-4-2-1, allowing players to regularly interchange positions. While Andrea Petagna was a big signing, he’s scored just once this year; instead, it’s been a balanced attack, led by left wingback Carlos Alberto’s 3 goals and right wingback Patrick Ciurria’s 3 assists, although the ever-tricky Gianluca Caprari is often at the heart of attacking moves.

That’s a good clue as to how Monza attack. They want to get the ball wide and drive into the penalty area. They’re excellent at keeping possession in deep areas before (3rd in Serie A)finding vertical passes to get forward, and they like to carry the ball when possible. The midfielders drift all over the place to find space, looking to unbalance a defense or drag markers into blind corners. If this sounds a little bit like a miniature Atalanta, well, that’s because Palladino seems to be trying to emulate the nearby Bergamaschi. With the hulking Petagna up front, they’ve also got a useful Plan B, but they definitely prefer working the ball around until someone can jet into the area and fire off a shot.

Possible lineups

Dodô or Venuti, Mandragora or Bonaventura; Izzo or Marí, Petagna or Mota
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How to watch

TV: Looks unlikely. Check the full international television listings to be sure.

Online: Here is your list of safe, reliable, and legal streams.

Ted’s Memorial Blind Guess Department

Fiorentina are big favorites with most of the betting houses, which is a little bit surprising considering that they’re just 3 points ahead of Monza in the table and may be missing a bunch of really important players. Still, they are at home and the Franchi always provides an impressive atmosphere. But in the first game back in almost 2 months, with injuries already piling up, and against a newly-promoted side, this feels like the most obvious banana skin since Mario Kart 64.

Despite that, I’ll go for a 2-1 victory for the hosts, with Jović and Barák (who’s been on a heater of late) on the scoresheet for the Viola and Caprari reducing the arrears for the Brianzoli. Neither side has defended all that well this year, so don’t be shocked if there are a fair number of goals but very few fouls in a quite open and entertaining game between two teams that want to control the ball and impose themselves on proceedings.

Forza Viola!