Vincenzo Italiano picked Gaetano Castrovilli, Lucas Martínez Quarta, and Luka Jović, leaving Nikola Milenković and Rolando Mandragora on the bench. Rıza Çalımbay left leading scorer Max-Alain Gradel on the bench in favor of January signing Samu Saíz but didn’t spring any other surprises.
The atmosphere between the supporters, by the way, was remarkably cordial. First, enjoy the away support receiving takeout pizzas before kickoff.
On a more serious note, they unfurled a banner thanking Italians for their support of relief efforts in the wake of the horrific earthquake. The banner reads “Thank you for the solidarity and the support, Italy.”
To contribute to the relief efforts in Fiorentina’s name on Twitter, get involved here.
Summoning all the fans, @JamTarts help me with this if you can. On the occasion of the match with the #Sivasspor team, #Fiorentina fans organized a fundraiser for the earthquake victims of Syria and Turkey. You can donate via paypal here https://t.co/9kQkIdEpTZ spread the word! pic.twitter.com/xrCzlGRP5P— Eclisse (@Il_Topo) March 7, 2023
Fiorentina came out like a hot knife, carving a buttery Sivasspor apart time and again. Jović and Giacomo Bonaventura both missed pretty simple chances, and Castrovilli nearly hit a scorpion kick volley from open play that would’ve been the best goal of the year (sorry, Cristiano Biraghi). Sivasspor tried to slow it down with some very physical play but didn’t really get a handle on things at all, and Jović (again) and Nico also missed good chances. Really, it was a cavalcade of opportunities for the hosts: 1.36 xG to 0.08, 13 shots to 3 (5 to 1 on frame), 66% possession, and just utter dominance. Except, of course, for the goal.
Fiorentina seemed to slow down a tad after the break, or maybe Sivasspor improved. Either way, the hosts remained the obviously better team but didn’t manage dominate in the same way. The Yigidos had a couple of chances off corners, one of which Jović cleared off the line and the other of which hit the bar, but nobody could argue that Fiorentina’s goal at the other end wasn’t wholly deserved, even if it was hilariously chaotic. Jović biked in a loose ball off a corner and Antonín Barák eventually took a touch and slammed it home via big deflection off a defender’s face.
The Viola did a pretty good job of killing off the game from there, slowing the pace and alternately keeping the ball or soaking up pressure. Indeed, they looked more likely to add another on the break, but Rolando Mandragora and Riccardo Sottil both messed up really good chances to finish it off. The drama emerged in stoppage time, when Gradel barged through LMQ’s back and caught him with an elbow, earning a straight red car seconds before the triple blast.
Goals: Barák 69’ (ass. Martínez Quarta)
Cards: Amrabat 58’, Jović 62’, Biraghi 90’+1, Dodô 90’+5; Saíz 42’, Cofie 90’+3, Gradel red card 90’+4
Fiorentina will head to Sivas with a goal advantage against a team missing its two top scorers, so that’s certainly a positive, even though the margin of victory should have been much, much wider. Cristiano Biraghi will miss the tie, though, after taking too long to put in a late corner, so we’ll likely see Luca Ranieri at leftback for that one.
Before that game next week, though, Fiorentina have a tussle at Cremonese. Normally, a matchup with a bad team in 19th place in Serie A wouldn’t be a concern, but this is also a preview for the Coppa Italia semifinal 3 weeks afterwards, so it could be an oddly fraught meeting.