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Fiorentina 4-0 Salernitana: Player Grades and 3 things we learned

The Viola bludgeon the bottom-dwellers and have sole possession of 5th place in the table

ACF Fiorentina v US Salernitana 1919 - Serie A Photo by Giuseppe Maffia/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Player grades

Pietro Terracciano—6: Did what he had to do, which wasn’t much. A shaky pass in the 67th minute docks him slightly, but a great save right after bumps him right back up. Keeping the clean sheet also boosts him in my book.

Álvaro Odriozola—5.5: The little Spainard continues to claim his starting spot over Lorenzo Venuti. Against an opponent such as the Granata, his lack of defensive ability is muted and he can maraud forward. Was still caught out badly in the 42nd minute and didn’t contribute as much going forwards as I would have liked.

Nikola Milenković—5: It was a poor and unnecessary early yellow from Niko, which led to him leaving after the first half. After that, he didn’t do much wrong and was certainly better than LMQ. Still, the Viola gave up too many chances in the first half, and he has to be partly to blame.

Lucas Martínez Quarta—5.5: How cool is he under pressure? Check out his move in the ninth minute to deke Simy right in front of our own net. He still is prone to one or two lapses in judgment per match, which is the biggest weakness he needs to fix to take the next step. Getting megged by Ribery was a little embarrassing. A better second half ups his rating.

Cristiano Biraghi—6: A solid game from Biraghi, who didn’t let up much on his side of the pitch. Not much else to say from his performance, but I’d like to see him get a rest and give Aleksa Terzić the full 90 in the Coppa Italia on Wednesday.

Giacomo Bonaventura—7: With his continued good form, will Jack be recalled to the Azzurri? The goal was obviously a highlight, but it really should have been saved. He had a great run in the 15th minute and was a menace throughout the entire first half. Once Fiorentina scored their second he took his foot off the gas slightly, but still had little moments of magic.

Lucas Torreira—6.5: He’s the fulcrum of this Viola side. The scoop pass in the 41st minute was a thing of beauty, but it’s his general pace of play and precision that makes him so important to the team. I feel vindicated seeing his impact having wanted his signing for over a year, he’s exactly what this midfield needed.

Alfred Duncan—5.5: Duncan’s resurgence has been great to see this season, but he was somewhat average here. He did get the assist for Dušan’s first, but that goal was due to Dušan more than anyone else. Moving forwards, I’d like to see more progressive passing out of him, but the work rate he always brings is phenomenal.

José Callejón—6.5: As one of the bigger Callejón critics out there, I’ve been pleasantly surprised with his improved play over the last month. Check out his great flick in the 14th minute, cross in the 28th, and header in the 45th. Slowed down slightly in the second half, but still a good performance.

Dušan Vlahović—7.5: @Matteo Bonetti, Vlahovic’s left foot is not his weaker foot (he made this mistake several times, c’mon man. You’re paid to do this). Still, his first goal was a beauty, reminiscent of his 2019 finish against Inter. Italiano has tweaked his tactics over the last six weeks to bring him into the match more, and it’s paying dividends. He’s already taken the next step even compared to last season, and I feel confident saying he’s a top 10 striker in Europe right now.

Nicolás González—6.5: Should have done better with a header in the 28th minute, and still looks to be getting up to speed after being out for weeks with Covid. For my liking, he dropped too centrally this game to try and create rather than be playing up on the wingback where he’s at his best. However, a certain Ikoné coming in should fix that problem. Still, even when not at his best he’s a menace, as evidenced by his run in the 61st minute, where he had a real penalty shout.

Igor— 5.5 Salernitana was quiet in the half he was on the pitch, but he still committed way too much to Franck Ribery in the 76th minute, which easily could have led to a goal.

Riccardo Sottil— 7

Came on to be direct and run at a tiring Salernitana defense, and he did exactly that, which was capped by an assist to Dušan. He deserves to get more game time in the next couple of matches before Xmas.

Youssef Maleh— 6.5

Not much to report. An easy goal and solid play from the Moroccan, who must have Gaetano Castrovilli worried with how well he’s playing.

Lorenzo Venuti— N/A

Aleksa Terzić— N/A

Three things we learned

1. Europe is more than a dream

We’re now 17 matches in, and the Viola have sole possession of 5th place. They’re 5 points up on Lazio and two on the Old Lady, with Roma also looking pretty poor and vulnerable. Simply put, if I were a betting man I’d put the Viola’s odds to qualify for Europe as the best they’ve been since the Pablo Sousa era. With these continued results comes higher expectations, and Fiorentina delivered today against weaker opposition. With the right additions on the cusp of arriving in January, there’s a real chance we’re seeing the Viola competing for Europe all the way up until the last matchday. That in and of itself would be a beautiful thing to see.

2. There are many defensive issues to tighten up Notice that as great as this match was, no defensive player received a great rating. Salernitana still had way too many chances for my liking, and there are issues on this side of the ball. In the first half, these mishaps were mostly LMQ’s individual mistakes, but in the second half the entire team gave up several sloppy chances despite being in control of possession. None were worst than a 4 on 3 break given up when the score was still just 2-0, which with slightly better quality Salernitana would have finished and it would have been game on for the last 10 minutes. While sending players forward even with the lead is fun, Fiorentina needs to be slightly more practical in these situations, as there’s no excuse for having both wingbacks and two midfielders in the box in that situation. While these mistakes are affordable against the Granata, Domenico Berardi and Gianluca Scamacca will not be so forgiving next weekend.

3. Rocco owes Vincenzo Italiano dinner After the match, Vincenzo Italiano said he was planning to take the entire Viola squad out to dinner. While this is deserved, Italiano himself has certainly merited a wine-and-dine from our president Rocco Commisso. Unfortunately, Rocco’s back in the States due to health precautions, but maybe a Zoom meeting would do. Italiano is the man most responsible for changing the attitude and perception of the club both on and off the field this season. On the field, he’s transformed the style of play with only two quality additions from the dumpster fire that was last season. Off the field, his results have kept any complaining about Rocco and Joe Barone to a minimum, who are starting to deliver on the results they promised when taking control of the club 30 months ago. The future looks bright for this side, especially considering the incoming cash from the Chiesa and eventual Dušan sale.