Vincenzo Italiano rotated his side a bit, with Igor, Antonín Barák, and Riccardo Saponara all coming in. The only surprise was Christian Kouamé getting the nod up front, although it was more due to an injury for Luka Jović and the need to rest Arthur Cabral than anything else. Marco Baroni went with Lorenzo Colombo at striker and left everything else the same.
As we predicted, Lecce pressed very intensely from the outset, trying to pin Fiorentina back and win the ball high up. They succeeded through the first 10 minutes as the Viola were unable to get across midfield, but the good guys started to figure it out after that, although they still had some bad turnovers in nervous positions throughout. Indeed, they barely got the ball into the visitors’ penalty area for the first half hour despite a couple of promising moves. The breakthrough came via a lovely Saponara cross for Nico González which the unfortunate Antonino Gallo turned into his own net under heavy pressure.
The Giallorossi had a couple of half-chances afterwards but it felt like the Viola managed things pretty well, looking to pick the visitors apart on the break and stringing together a couple of really nice moves. When the whistle arrived (after no stoppage time), it felt like the Viola had edged it.
Aside from a lapse that forced Pietro Terracciano into a massive save on Federico Di Francesco just after the break, Fiorentina were much better in the second half. The players kept the ball moving quickly and Lecce’s intensity dropped off, allowing them to control the tempo and see things out pretty easily despite some persistent fouling from the Salentini and some rather uneven officiating from Romario abisso. Indeed, they were unlucky not to add another late as Lecce threw the kitchen sink forward, but Riccardo Sottil in particular just wasn’t precise enough as he works his way back to fitness. Still, the team won’t complain about a win, even if it wasn’t the most stylish.
Goals: Gallo OG 27’
Cards: Igor 63’; Blin 25’, Maleh 72’, Umtiti 89’
The win pushes Fiorentina up to 9th in the table, even with Bologna and Torino on 37 points and just 1 behind Juventus in 7th (although the Juvenuts have a game in hand). This has been a remarkable stretch for the club: 4 straight wins in Serie A (their most since 2018), 7 wins in all competitions (also their most since 2018), and 9 straight unbeaten in all competitions. Winning scrappy against desperate opposition, too, is perhaps the best signpost that the mentally-fragile side we saw earlier this year is gone. It’s a good day.