It’s been a crushingly painful summer for Fiorentina fans, but at least there’s a distraction on the horizon, and that distraction is the beginning of Viola football! It’s a nice reminder that the team does still exist. It’ll also be a chance to see how the lads do in their first live action under Stefano Pioli.
This friendly will be played on Wednesday, 12 July 2017, at 5:30 PM local/11:30 PM EST, at the Stadio Cesare Benatti in Moena, Italy.
Val di Fassa
Val di Fassa are a local amateur side based out of Fassa, about 7 kilometers north of Moena. Founded in 1978, they’ve grown considerably and currently have over 200 players in their youth and senior setup. They’ve played a variety of Serie A teams in preseason warmups over the years, and have won several amateur tournaments as well. They’re a big part of the social life for the locals in the tourist-heavy valley and are perhaps more focused on that aspect of their society than the football.
It’s hard to say what Pioli’s first- and second-half teams are going to look like. Given that many of his key senior players—Khouma Babacar, Milan Badelj, Hrvoje Milić, and several others—have only arrived at training in the past couple of days, he’ll have to rely heavily on youth, which means we’ll get a longer look at guys like Ianis Hagi, Bartłomiej Drągowski, Julián Illanes, Abdou Diakhate, Gabriele Gori, Josh Pérez, Fabio Maistro, and the rest of the Primavera stars.
Since managers usually try to mix and match their experienced players with the fresher faces, trying to figure out the actual starting lineups is impossible. What we will be looking for is how the lads do in a 4-2-3-1 and what the kids do. Obviously, this isn’t a real match, so there’s not a lot of analysis we can do on Pioli’s tactics. With all respect to Val di Fassa, who are a top-notch amateur outfit, this one probably won’t be that close on the scoreboard.
Three things to watch for
1. Who’s got the armband. Early reports are that Davide Astori is going to be next season’s captain, which makes perfect sense. He’s as steady as they come and seems to be well-liked by his teammates. He’s also the oldest of the regular outfield starters at 30, has previously captained Cagliari, and is a regular international call-up. But who else will get the band? We’ve heard rumors that Matías Vecino is already one of the manager’s favorites, which could put him in the running. There’ve been whispers, too, that Federico Chiesa may end up with it, which would be a little bit crazy. And Nenad Tomović may get a chance with it as well.
2. Which youngster looks like a world-beater. These early friendlies are often a chance for professional athletes to show how much more athletic they are than regular (albeit very fit) people. My money’s on Hagi and Diakhite, but a certain young American could also open some eyes.
3. What the fans do. Fiorentina has had a really terrible summer in terms of transfers. It’s not the players who’ve arrived, several of whom look pretty sharp, but the ones who’ve left. Moena’s pretty low-key and attracts a crowd that’s more interested in autographs and photo ops, rather than a Curva Fiesole-type tifoso. Even so, it wouldn’t be astonishing if we saw some dissatisfaction in the stands at some point during the preseason.
How to watch
TV: Are you kidding? No it’s not on TV. You goofus.