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Genoa vs Fiorentina: Preview

We’re halfway through August and it’s time to get ready for the first game of the season.

ACF Fiorentina v West Ham United FC - UEFA Europa Conference League Final 2022/23
Nico can’t believe that we’re going to spend the next 9 months losing our minds about all this either.
Photo by Chris Brunskill/Fantasista/Getty Images

A new season means a whole new load of hopes and dreams to be dashed, and Fiorentina will start that exciting process at Genoa. In 114 previous competitive meetings, the Viola hold a record of W49 D40 L25, including a W3 D6 L1 mark over their past 10 league meetings. This fixture ended in a 1-2 win for the good guys last year behind a Riccardo Saponara masterclass off the bench.

The referee for this one is 31-year-old Giovanni Ayroldi of Molfetta. In 32 Serie A matches, he’s handed out 169 yellow cards, 8 red cards, and 11 penalties. In 3 matches under his watch, Fiorentina are W2 L1. His most recent performance with the Viola was 2-1 win over AS Roma in the home finale last year featuring a late comeback courtesy of Luka Jović and Jonathan Ikoné.

The match will be played on Saturday, 19 August 2023, at 6:45 PM GMT/2:45 PM EST, at the Stadio Luigi Ferraris in Genoa. Even in chilly Liguria, it’s mid-August and the weather is going to act like it. Expect temperatures over 30°C/85°F, even at the late hour; combined with this being the first game of the season and it feels like this could be a relatively slow-moving affair, although Fiorentina’s opening fixture has seen an average of over 4 goals per game since 2019-2020.


The Grifoni have bounced right back into the top flight after a yearlong absence, finishing runners up after sacking manager Alexander Blessin at midseason and replacing him with a certain someone. Genoa only lost twice the rest of the way and will be bullish on their chances of staying up, although a narrow win over Modena in the Coppa Italia will have them feeling a bit nervous.

Genoa CFC v Modena - Coppa Italia Round of 32
There’s more forehead, sure, but that’s still our Gila Monster.
Photo by Simone Arveda/Getty Images

Manager Alberto Gilardino (whom we love forever) won’t have CB Mattia Bani or LW Junior Messias. He’s alternated between a 3-5-2 and a 4-3-3 during his spell at Genoa, although we’re leaning towards the former given Messias’ absence for this one. The dangerman is, of course, new signing Mateo Retegui. The oriundo scored 32 seconds into his first start and added another later on, so he’s clearly adapting to Italy just fine. Keep an eye out for another old friend in Milan Badelj, who captains the club for his old teammate.

Genoa will likely keep a deep-ish line against Fiorentina, but they probably won’t be a purely kick-and-rush team. Gilardino’s got them playing pretty well, with both strikers dropping into midfield at times, dragging defenses into unexpected shapes and then spinning into the vacated space. The midfield is solid more than dynamic, but the wingbacks are both good going forward and offer width and crossing. Alternatively, long passes into the channels for the front two to connect off of were a big problem for this defense last year and Gilardino will be keen to test if that’s still the case.


After a season that contained quite a bit of magic but ended in the disappointment of two lost cup finals, Fiorentina is ready to try again. Having stumbled backwards into the Conference League after Juventus’ suspension, it’ll be another 3-front campaign for the Viola. They’ll want to get off on the right foot, too, after a summer of stewing on those near misses, but don’t get the luxury of easing into the season as they need to pile up points against newly-promoted sides before the schedule crunch begins.

Manager Vincenzo Italiano won’t start all his new signings. Arthur Melo is nearly guaranteed a starting spot and M’Bala Nzola may force his way past Luka Jović, but he and Lucas Beltrán have trained with the team for less than a week and lack familiarity with their new teammates. Lucas Martínez Quarta and Luca Ranieri will compete to partner Nikola Milenković at the back, while Josip Brekalo and Jonathan Ikoné jockey for a spot on the wing opposite Nicolás González. The wildcard is Sofyan Amrabat, who may sit out as his move away nears completion, leaving Rolando Mandragora to man the engine room.

Genoa have a big, rugged back 3, and that’s the exact sort of defense that gave Fiorentina problems last year. Expect González to continue his free role on the wing, often drifting inside to become a second striker, but the real question will be if Arthur can offer enough to unlock a deep block. If he can, this year’s Viola will have an entirely new dimension. Otherwise, expect a similar approach to last year, at least to start: quick passing, territorial dominance, and furious counterpressing. It’s the Italiano way and the players all know how it works by now. Should be fun.

Possible lineups

Fredrup or Strootman, Gudmundsson or Coda; Martínez Quarta or Ranieri, Brekalo or Ikoné, Nzola or Jović
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How to watch

TV: Most broadcasters will show Inter Milan vs Monza instead, so don’t bet on it. Check the international television listings if you want to, though.

Online: Here is your list of safe, reliable, and legal streams.

Ted’s Memorial Blind Guess Department

The oddsmakers have Fiorentina as favorites but not by much, which is a bit surprising to me. After all, this is a European finalist (albeit from the Conference League) against a newly-promoted side (albeit one that was only down for a year). I don’t think it’ll be easy by any means, because it never is for the Viola, but they’ve got the quality and the continuity to do pretty well here, although the heat and the lack of match fitness are certainly concerns.

I’m expecting a 1-2 win for the good guys. My money’s on Nzola to score on his debut and for Nico to come out firing, with Retegui netting for the hosts. The Viola should dominate possession but look vulnerable on the break, as per usual, but don’t expect a breakneck tempo under the punishing sun, which likely favors Genoa’s more passive approach.

Forza Viola!