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Torino 1-1 Fiorentina: Player grades and 3 things we learned

Nobody is going to remember this game.

Luka Jovic of Acf Fiorentina celebrates after scoring a goal... Photo by Marco Canoniero/LightRocket via Getty Images

Player grades

Michele Cerofolini—6.5: Still looks uncomfortable with the ball at his feet but looks a solid shot stopper. Might’ve done a tad more on the goal but it might’ve just been that well placed. Made a great stop on Yann Karamoh early on and another that didn’t count due to an offside. Probably ready for Serie B or the bottom half of Serie A.

Lorenzo Venuti—6.5: Held up well defensively and really contributed going forward. This is probably about his ceiling, but he’s always been more unlucky than bad, and his love for the shirt means that he’s a good option as the captain.

Lucas Martínez Quarta—6: 4 interceptions and 2 tackles are the signs of a fine performance, but it felt like he wasn’t quite dialed in the way he was a few months ago.

Igor—4.5: Lost Antonio Sanabria on the goal and had a couple other nervy moments as well. He’s still a good player, because that level of athleticism and technical ability is unique, but there’s just something going on with him.

Aleksa Terzić—6.5: Had a couple of hiccups at the back, most notably a ball that he let bounce over his head that Nikola Vlašić snapped up, but was good going forward and showed good strength and dribbling. It’s nutty to say that he’s better than Cristiano Biraghi, but he may be a decent backup right now with room to grow.

Antonín Barák—6: Frequently drifted out to the right wing and combined nicely with Saponara but didn’t show enough, although he was clearly working hard off the ball and found a few decent passes. Still waiting to see him take over a game.

Rolando Mandragora—5: Came close with a back post header, but got skinned by the not-especially-quick Alessandro Buongiorno on the goal and never prevented Torino from playing between the lines. Shouldn’t have enrolled in the Zdravko Kuzmanović Institute of Shooting for Kids Who Don’t Shoot Well but Want to Learn How to Do That and Other Stuff Too.

Alfred Duncan—6: A bit imprecise with the ball at times but buzzed around energetically, helping to build up the play and dropping to cover for Terzić when the fullback moved forward. Hit an absolute rocket that looked on frame but for a block and also nutmegged Vlašić’s soul out of his body, so a good day.

Riccardo Saponara—6: Started on the right and didn’t influence the game much outside of a first-half moment when he muscled a defender off the ball in the box and centered it for Kouamé, who hadn’t made the obvious run. Pulled up with an injury in the second half, which was a bummer.

Christian Kouamé—7: Didn’t do much while playing striker besides charge around with no real effect, but looked much better on the right. Got the assist with a truly gorgeous cross and put in another one not long after that Jović maybe could’ve reached. At worst, he’s a useful rotational option.

Riccardo Sottil—6.5: Only played the first half but looked the likeliest to make something happen. Fizzed in a couple of good crosses, nearly lobbed Vanja Milinković-Savić from a tight angle (I don’t think it was a cross), and tried an audacious volley after the keeper feebly punched a high ball clear. Is he being saved for the Coppa?

Luka Jović—7: Scored a good header with his first touch after a clever little drift away from his marker. Didn’t accomplish a whole lot else, but the damage was done. You feel like he desperately needed that one as a confidence boost.

Josip Brekalo—5: Didn’t do much to impress his former employer. Still seems oddly hesitant to shoot from the top of the box.

Alessandro Bianco—5: Two fouls in his first 3 minutes on the pitch, including a well-deserved card. Spiky little character and it’s hard not to like him for it.

Jonathan Ikoné—5: Fiorentina’s most chaotic winger was pretty quiet. There really is no predicting what he’ll do on any given day.

Luca Ranieri—n/a: Brought on to kill some time. Did make a (completely clean) Hollywood tackle on Pietro Pellegri late on that left the striker crumpled in a heap.

Three things we learned

1. Fiorentina is all-in for the cups. All year long, Vincenzo Italiano has faced criticism for his squad rotation as he tries to guide Fiorentina through a 3-front campaign. As the season’s worn on, he’s slowly shifted his focus away from Serie A and towards the Conference League and the Coppa Italia. In case there was any doubt, though, he sent out 10 backups and Igor for this one; it was such an extreme squad change that, as he mentioned in his presser, this XI had never previously played together, even in training.

2. There’s more depth in this squad than we thought at the start of the year. And even that hilariously second-choice XI held Torino to a draw. That may not sound impressive, but a bunch of guys who’ve never played as a team going on the road and holding a team above them in the standings to a point is a real accomplishment, albeit not one that’ll live long in the memory.

As much as we rip on him around these parts, a lot of credit has to go to Daniele Pradè. Signings like Mandragora, Barák, Arthur Cabral, Dodô, and Giacomo Bonavenura were all met with initial indifference, if not outright skepticism, but they’ve become key contributors to a side that could win a couple of trophies this year. There aren’t any positions that are desperately understocked for the first time I can ever remember in this team’s history. Pradè’s done a fantastic job assembling these pieces.

3. Italiano is a very good manager. Again, we all too often only look at his perceived shortcomings: Fiorentina don’t score enough from corners and the defense always plays too high and the attack relies on crossing too much and yadda yadda yadda. A game like this demonstrates just how adept he is at creating a tactical plan and preparing his players to execute it. That he could do this with a novel configuration of backups speaks volumes to his quality.

It’s not just that he’s clever in the leadup to matches, though. It’s that he’s reclaimed so many broken toys destined for the scrapheap of the loan cycle and recast them as useful pieces. None of Saponara, Ranieri, Kouamé, or Terzić looked like Serie A players when he arrived, and yet here they all are, playing competently and doing their jobs.

Now ask yourself: Would this have happened if Gennaro Gattuso had stuck around? We’re lucky to have this mister.