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Fiorentina 1-0 Sivasspor: Player grades and 3 things we learned

The Viola once again laugh in the face of every xG model you can imagine, but at least this time they came away with a win.

ACF Fiorentina v Sivasspor: Round of 16 Leg One - UEFA Europa Conference League Photo by Gabriele Maltinti/Getty Images

Player grades

Pietro Terracciano—6: Didn’t have very much to do. Nary a save on the day and very little action as a sweeper or claiming crosses. Had a dicey moment or two in possession. Bit weird to see him instead of Salvatore Sirigu, but maybe the new signing is still dealing with some personal stuff.

Dodô—6.5: Really whiffed on a half-chance in the first half but constantly drove the team forward and looked like a decent threat. Held up surprisingly well defensively. Booked for getting in Max Gradel’s face after the Ivorian assaulted LMQ, but spent a lot of time winding Sivasspor up. Looks like a really unpleasant little spud to play against.

Lucas Martínez Quarta—7: Played a couple of lovely passes that deserved better at the other end. Held up decently in his running battle with Jordie Caicedo, preventing the Ecuadorian from doing much of anything. A bit suspect in the air but massive with his tackling in space. Still a bit too eager to charge forward at the wrong moment.

Igor—7: Imperious. Never looked fussed by Sivasspor’s attackers and produced a couple of bulldozing runs forward. It’s good to see the assurance we saw last year return; this version of him is fantastic.

Cristiano Biraghi—6.5: Interesting role for the captain, as he often sat deep and narrow, almost like a left-sided regista at times. Still raided forward a bit and pinged in some decent balls from open play and set pieces. Picked up a really dumb card for wasting time that’ll keep him out for the reverse fixture, which is very disappointing.

Giacomo Bonaventura—6: Active as ever but didn’t quite have the quality. Missed an absolutely golden chance early on and, despite buzzing around, never seemed to impact proceedings that much. Need the Only Scores Bangers Jack back posthaste.

Sofyan Amrabat—6: Had a few uncharacteristic bobbles in possession but was mostly pretty sound. Never looks as comfortable in games where Fiorentina’s on the front foot, as his wrecking ball act gets curtailed when his side always has the ball, but sprayed some good passes around without really blowing anyone away.

Gaetano Castrovilli—7: In his first start since 16 April 2022, looked like the best player out there in the first half. Pulled wide to the left, allowing Nico to duck inside, but wasn’t just a decoy. Dribbled past defenders, teased in decent passes, and almost scored the best goal of 2023. Still has his trademark burst and could be huge through the end of the season. Faded later on but guys, Tanino is back. Celebrate.

Jonathan Ikoné—4.5: It’s easy to pile on Jonny sometimes, as he always tries audacious things and sometimes pulls them off, but when they don’t work, he looks like a doofus. Today was one of those days. His touch let him down time and again as every attack down the right fizzled out at his feet.

Luka Jović—4: Missed not one but two very, very simple chances. If you’re going to be a poacher who doesn’t press, doesn’t dribble, and doesn’t help in the buildup, you have to bury those. He didn’t, and even picked up a needless booking.

Nicolás González—7: Magisterial in the first half, drifting across the pitch and making things happen. If his relationship with Castrovilli here is any indication, he might be verging on a new level. Missed one good chance but was at the heart of every good Fiorentina move. The Radio could play for any team in the world.

Antonín Barák—7: His knack for scoring in a crowd has crossed from fun party trick to part of his identity now. Dug in well and helped see out the win, but he’s starting to look like one of the premier moments players in the side.

Rolando Mandragora—5.5: Put a really good chance into the side netting but helped see things out very well, taking the sting out of everything Sivasspor did.

Riccardo Sottil—5: I don’t care that he messed up a lot. I just care that our Handsome Ricky is back. Probably needs a few more weeks to get back up to speed, but really, that’s fine if he’s gonna be that handsome.

Arthur Cabral—5: Booked for a really, really obvious dive in the area. Other than that (and it was B A D), motored around and helped link things well. Played as a 10 rather than as an out-and-out striker in what felt like a very defensive adjust from Italiano but one that could be sporadically interesting.

Christian Kouamé—5.5: First time we’ve seen him in a couple of weeks and he’s still himself, bustling around, tracking back, and producing the occasional moment of quality. Fizzed in a lovely ball that Cabral should’ve buried.

Three things we learned

1. Luka Jović just ain’t it. I really want to like Jović. He’s the type of player who fell out of favor in the 1990s: a stocky, predatory striker whose lizard-like lethargy is offset by his ability to smash home every chance that comes his way. I love a poacher; Alberto Gilardino is a footballing (and fashion) icon of mine, and I’ll never back away from that prototype. In my dreams, that’s exactly the kind of player I am, even though I’m a no-nonsense defensive midfielder or centerback at this point in my Sunday League career.

Here’s the thing, though. The Gila Monster’s off-ball movement was as good as anyone’s on the planet for awhile. His decoy runs dragged defenses into circles, leaving space for Adrian Mutu or Stevan Jovetić to exploit. Jović, in contrast, is sluggish, rarely breaking into anything beyond a trot. That’s fine, but a player like that has to finish his chances. Jović just hasn’t. He’s left at least half a dozen goals on the field this year and has made it very clear that he’s at least a level below Arthur Cabral; even when the Brazilian misses birdies, his hustle creates opportunities for everyone else.

2. We need more LMQ. After a shocking month to open the season, LMQ has righted himself in the biggest of ways; that’s a testament to his mental toughness and he deserves credit. With Nikola Milenković and Igor wavering throughout the season, I’d be interested in seeing a back three featuring all of them, especially against opponents that want to sit very deep. LMQ, Igor, and Milenković all like to gallop forward at times and join the attack, and pushing Biraghi and Dodô forrward into more attacking roles feels like a pretty obvious fit. Really, whatever it takes to get our Lucas back in is good, because he deserves more minutes.

3. This team is built so, so strangely. We’ve all taken our shots at Joe Barone and Daniele Pradè this year, but I still can’t get over the fact that Fiorentina has six (6!) wingers for 2 spots. González, Ikoné, Sottil, Kouamé, Riccardo Saponara, and Josip Brekalo are all fine players at worst, but keeping half of them nailed to the bench is so, so counterproductive. Maybe the brain trust can sell a couple of them this summer, but it’s startling to me that this team has so many wingers and so few options at fullback, striker, and centerback.