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Rapid Wien 1-0 Fiorentina: Recap

The Viola wilt in the Austrian heat.

Genoa CFC v ACF Fiorentina - Serie A TIM
Has it all to do now.
Photo by Getty Images/Getty Images


Vincenzo Italiano didn’t change his XI at all from the big win over Genoa aside from Dodô replacing Michael Kayode, clearly prioritizing continuity over freshness. The real story, though, was the heat inside the Allianz Stadion: the temperature got past 30°C/90°F, which is extremely unpleasant to play in. Add in a sold-out home crowd and you get the sense that it was mighty warm in Vienna.

First half

Rapid Wien set out much as we all expected: a deep, compact block in two banks of 4, denying Fiorentina any space in behind. What was interesting was that they pressed higher than anticipated, forcing Fiorentina into more long passes than usual. Credit Grün-Weißen boss Zoran Barisic, because the approach made things clunky, scrappy, and bad to watch, which is likely exactly what he wanted.

On the other hand, the hosts didn’t create much of their own, so it felt like a couple of blindfolded cavemen swinging clubs in each other’s general direction more than anything coherent. Matches like that tend to hinge on who blinks first, and it was indubitably the Viola: Rolando Mandragora blatantly dragged back his man on a corner, giving referee Igor Pajač no choice but to point to the spot, from where Marco Grüll converted. A shell-shocked Fiorentina mustered no response and nearly conceded again, so the break certainly came at the right time.

Second half

Italiano didn’t make any changes and the game continued about how it had before halftime. Cristiano Biraghi smashed a couple of free kicks into the wall, but that was really it. Riccardo Sottil brought a breath of fresh air, causing problems throughout the Austrians’ defense, but nobody else really stepped up with him and the Viola never created much of anything.

They still had a chance to tie it late, as Lucas Beltrán got in behind, but el Vikingo was unable to finish past Niklas Hedl, who then made a second miracle save on Gino Infantino as Beltrán squared it back in. A loss was absolutely what that performance merited and what it earned, so Italiano and company can’t be upset with anyone but themselves.

Full time

Goals: Grüll PK 34’

Cards: Hofmann 53’, Schick 90’; Mandragora 33’, Bonaventura 42’

What’s next

Fiorentina finally get to play at home against Lecce on Sunday, but the Giallorossi knocked off Lazio last week and will be itching to claim another big victim. Italiano will likely have to rotate his squad a bit more than he did today, as the heat and the heavy minutes clearly took a toll on his charges and he’ll need them fresh for the second leg on Thursday. With no away goals, a 1-goal deficit isn’t impossible for Fiorentina to overturn by any stretch, especially with the might of the Artemio Franchi behind it, but there’s a lot of work to be done.