Fiorentina played their first preseason friendly of the season, and first under new manager Vincenzo Italiano, against German outfit SV Ostermünchen earlier today. Given that the visitors are in Kreisliga 1, which equates to the 8th division, there aren’t all that many conclusions you can realistically draw from the proceedings, especially with half the projected starting lineup still on vacation following the Copa America and the Euros. I’m not even going to bother with player grades or anything and will instead just stick to some overarching themes I noticed.
1. The ball stayed low and moved quickly.
The past couple of years in preseason, the tempo’s been a lot lower for these friendlies. This time around, you could feel the intensity radiating off of Italiano as he prowled the touchline. The team fed off that, playing without physical aggression but with a desire to ping the ball around quite a bit. You could see the central defenders really focus on hitting it forward through the lines for a midfielder or forward, who’d either turn and run with the ball or look to lay it off with one or two touches to a teammate in close support who could then drive on. It was, as you’d expect, pretty ragged at times, because these guys have only been working on it for a week, but there might well be an excellent style of play in there.
2. There were a couple of weird personnel decisions.
The big one was Pietro Terracciano playing the full 90 while Bartłomiej Drągowski stayed glued to the bench. Maybe Bart’s carrying a niggle or maybe his place is so secure that Italiano just gave him the day off. I was very interested, though, that Christian Dalle Mura started ahead of Igor and Luca Ranieri, and that Dimo Krastev jumped past Youssef Maleh and Marco Benassi. Maybe Italiano’s ensuring that the second unit has some experience, or maybe he’s sending a message to these guys that they need to earn a bigger role. Either way, how the mister deploys his players against C4 Foligno could be quite interesting.
3. Professional athletes are hilariously athletic.
Yeah, I know, it’s really stupid, but it also bears repeating. We talk about guys like Riccardo Saponara and Ranieri as lacking the necessary physical characteristics to really impress at the top level, but the margins are so fine by that point that it’s a little bit jarring to see Ranieri execute a flawless overhead kick for a goal within seconds of coming on for the second half. It’s very easy to sit on a couch and criticize these dudes’ lack of pace or fitness or whatever, but let’s also acknowledge that every Ostermünchen player would probably be the best guy on any team you’ve played on, and that they’re nowhere near their Viola counterparts. Humans are just incredible.