Vincenzo Italiano and Aureliano Andreazzoli sent out their respective best XIs, featuring Fabiano Parisi and Youssef Maleh, who crossed paths en route between these two teams over the summer. The Curva Fiesole came out with a throwback theme for the day, which looked marvelous and probably provided the highlight of the match.
It was a pretty scruffy opening as both sides struggled to settle in despite an early chance each way, but the visitors established themselves as the greater threat with some direct passing and neat combination play between the front three. Nicolò Cambiaghi got loose and had a shot that clattered off Francesco Caputo, who also missed a free header from a corner. For the hosts, González had a triple chance at the back post but saw Etrit Berisha save the first two efforts before the third flew over the bar, while Alfred Duncan nearly caught the goalkeeper napping with a venomous drive from distance. The goal was well-deserved as Alberto Grassi got in behind unmarked and crossed for Caputo’s lovely finish, but the Viola defending was truly woeful.
It wasn’t much of a wake-up call, either, as the visitors piled the pressure on, aided by basic mistakes in possession from the good guys. Pietro Terracciano made a good save on Matteo Cancellieri, but the focus shifted to Giacomo Bonaventura and Maleh, who got tangled up before the ex-Viola midfielder went down like he’d been poleaxed after Jack hit him with a forearm in the chest. With Fiorentina reeling, Caputo nearly added a second just before the break, stooping for a header that was ruled out after a VAR check for the slightest of handballs.
Andreazzoli clearly ordered his boys to sit deep and soak up pressure, and that’s exactly what they did, sticking 10 or 11 behind the ball at all times and rarely even pretending to emerge from their block. González and Riccardo Sottil (subbed on at the break) led the charge and created some chances that went unfinished, along with borderline handball in the box (probably not enough for a PK), but the hope was clearly leaking out of the stadium even before Lucas Martínez Quarta lost the ball deep in his own half, resulting in a quick cross and point blank tap-in for Emmanuel Gyasi to put the game to bed.
Emmanuel Gyasi scores for Empoli. They lead Fiorentina 0-2. pic.twitter.com/JGPqXuIKqa— Football View (@FootballViewYT) October 23, 2023
There were a couple more glances at goal, but by this point it was clear that Etrit Berisha was going to miraculously save anything Fiorentina threw at his goal—a Rolando Mandragora deflected cross that he clawed away and a desperately lucky stop on a González header—so the final whistle was merely confirmation of what we’d expected for quite some time: a very predictable but still infuriating loss at home.
Goals: Caputo 21’ (ass. Grassi), Gyasi 81’ (ass. Fazzini)
Cards: Beltrán 77’; Walukiewicz 52’, Cancellieri 71’, Fazzini 79’
Fiorentina will try to get a first win in Group G of the Conference League on Thursday against Čukarički, then have a quick turnaround to travel to the capital and take on an uneven Lazio. Losing to Empoli here isn’t a catastrophe, but a win would’ve vaulted the Viola past Napoli and into 4th. Instead, they’ll stay at 5th place with 17 points, ruing a massively disappointing performance. The neighbors, if you’ll recall, were in 19th place before this one and had scored a single goal in 8 Serie A matches; if that doesn’t provide some perspective on Fiorentina’s struggles, I don’t know what does.