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Fiorentina season review 2019-2020: Goalkeepers

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The Viola are in safe hands (we’re so sorry) going forward.

Bartlomiej Dragowski of Fiorentina looks on during the... Photo by Andrea Staccioli/LightRocket via Getty Images

As you might expect from Serie A’s fifth-best defense, Fiorentina boasted some sterling play from its goalkeepers all year. Bartłomiej Drągowski firmly established himself as a very good goalie, while Pietro Terracciano locked down the backup spot. Third-string Federico Brancolini even got a brief chance between the sticks. All in all, it was a good year for the Viola custodians. As a quick heads up, I’ve left some of Terracciano’s stats incomplete due to WhoScored not keeping Coppa Italia numbers, which would’ve changed things quite a bit.

Bartłomiej Drągowski

After three years of sitting on the bench behind the likes of Marco Sportiello and Alban Lafont, it would’ve been perfectly fair for the 22-year-old Pole to demand a move. Instead, he chose to give Fiorentina a chance, and they were superbly lucky that he did. As a pure shot-stopper, he’s as good as anyone on the peninsula, possessing reflexes that belie his bulk and an innate understanding of where to be at any given moment. He’s at his best making jaw-dropping, boint blank saves.

Because he’s not the tallest goalkeeper in the world, he’s still learning how to navigate traffic in the area to claim crosses, and he’s occasionally a bit slower to reach longer shots than you’d like. He doesn’t always trust his hands, too, and tends to punch shots out, although he’s much better at putting them away from goal than Lafont was. He did, however, improve his distribution from the back immensely over the course of the season, so it’s likely that one of those two areas will be his main focus next year. Still, for the first time in a few years, it feels like the Viola have a long-term solution between the sticks as well as a candidate for their player of the year. Also has Serie A’s best beard.

Final stats: 32 appearances (2790 minutes played), 44 goals conceded, 8 clean sheets, 3.1 saves per game, 64.1% save percentage, 2/8 penalties saved

Final grade: B+

Best moment: He was incredible vs Lazio, at Hellas Verona, at Juventus, at Sampdoria, and vs Cagliari, but it has to be his performance against Genoa to keep a clean sheet. His 7 saves included a penalty stop on Domenico Criscito, a ridiculous tip over on a Davide Biraschi header, and a 1-v-1 denial of Andrea Pinamonti. Just absurd.

Worst moment: Not many to choose from, but the home loss to Lecce was pretty bad. He wasn’t really at fault for the goal, but did make two spectacular blunders—a clearance he utterly whiffed and another that he skewed straight into the air—leading to great chances for the visitors; were it not for the fact that Khouma Babacar still loves Fiorentina, he’d have easily netted both.

Goals for next year: Improve the distribution and solidify the work on longer shots. Really, though, there isn’t that much left for Serie A’s most underrated goalkeeper. Should be making his senior Poland debut soon.

Pietro Terracciano

A steady veteran of the lower reaches of calcio prior to his time at Empoli, he slotted right into the Fiorentina setup last year and even had a couple of decent performances. He picked up right where he left off, serving as the Coppa Italia starter and closing the season in goal as Bart picked up a back injury. Was mostly quite good, especially during his extended run of games at the end, and proved that he’s a more-than-adequate second goalkeeper.

At a bulky 193 cm/6’4, he’s exactly as good as you’d expect tracking crosses and is fearless (and extraordinarily quick) coming off his line, both for the ball and to sweep up behind his defense, and he’s also got a very good sense of where he is in the goal and knows how to make himself big in 1-v-1s. He’s got good reflexes but has a habit of punching the ball rather than catching it, and occasionally struggles to get down to lower shots. His distribution is also a bit basic and he’s got a blunder or two in his locker, but his experience, contentment with the number two job, and dressing room presence make him an ideal backup.

Final stats: 10 appearances (895 minutes played), 8 goals conceded, 4 clean sheets, 0/3 penalty saves

Final grade: B+ Played so well at the end that there’ve been whispers about him taking over as the starter, but let’s not forget that he had a couple of pretty dicey moments as well. On balance, just a perfect backup.

Best moment: Keeping a clean sheet at the San Siro against Inter Milan. Made a double save on Lorenzo Venuti and Martín Cáceres to prevent two pinball own goals, had a superb stretch on a Nicolò Barella drive, and denied Romelu Lukaku from close range. Shades of his work against Lazio last year, except he didn’t even concede. Simply magnificent.

Worst moment: Ironically enough, probably the 2-1 loss at the San Siro to Inter. Undid a lot of great defensive work by miscommunicating with Milan Badelj and letting Antonio Candreva open the scoring.

Goals for next year: More of the same, please.

Federico Brancolini

The 19-year-old served as the third-string goalie all year and got rewarded with a Serie A debut, coming on for the final 5 minutes as Fiorentina shelled Bologna. While he didn’t face a shot and had all of 3 touches, it’s still very exciting to see one of Fiorentina’s brightest young players in the top flight after looking sharp for the Primavera and the Italy U19s this past season.

Final stats: 1 appearance (5 minutes), 0 goals conceded, 0 saves

Final grade: A Okay, so mostly joking here, but he kept a clean sheet on his debut and is officially a Serie A goalkeeper as a teenager. Can’t ask for much more than that, can you?

Best moment: Playing in Serie A! As a teenager! In goal!

Worst moment: n/a Had a couple of bobbles for the Primavera, but we’re talking about the first team here.

Goals for next year: With Drągowski the unquestioned starter and Terracciano locked in as the backup, it probably makes sense for Brancolini to go out on loan next year. Serie C looks like the likeliest destination, but he could maybe got to a lower-half Serie B club and compete for a role. Either way, he’s got everything he needs to become a top flight starter at some point except the experience, so we’re excited for him.