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Pioggia Viola : AFC Fiorentina

Started on 20 November 2019 by OohAhCantona
Latest Reply on 26 September 2020 by OohAhCantona
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2021-22 SECOND HALF : REGNO VIOLA!

After what happened at the end of last season most fans are a little wary of getting emotionally invested in a team in the pole position. Fiorentina’s history is not on their side, even with the incredible first half there would always be room for a meltdown thanks to poor play or injuries. This team isn't Juventus, there isn’t an expectation of excellence, Ronaldo is probably being paid as much as the entire Fiorentina roster. Even with a substantial lead in the league, and a surprising Champions League run, anything could happen.

MATCH(ES) OF THE SECOND HALF

Champions League (H) : Fiorentina 2(2) - Liverpool 1(2)a


As Fiorentina ripped through everyone, a purple buzz saw nobody had an answer to, a three game stretch would end up defining their season. There is an argument that Fiorentina’s 1-0 loss at Anfield in the first leg of the Semi-Final was impressive, facing off against a Jürgen Klopp led team in a hostile environment and walking out with a decent 1-0 loss was quite an accomplishment. Liverpool opened this series as very heavy favorites, most assumed this was where Fiorentina’s bubble would burst but they could have won or drawn that game.

“We played well, but the score was not in our favor” said Montella about their loss “we can’t win on good feelings and moral victories, we must score. We must win.”

Liverpool remained favorites, but I Viola had dismantled Arsenal and Borussia Dortmund at Artemio Franchi so anything was possible. Montella had absolutely no reason to back down, they had nothing to lose and everything to gain. Just getting this far was impressive, but they believed they could go farther. That approach was obvious from the very start of the game as Fiorentina played a little more aggressively and managed to keep the ball from Liverpool, even under their pressing Fiorentina was better at retaining and getting the ball back. A corner at 31’ opened the door for I Viola when Danilo Pereira elbowed Armando Izzo in the face, putting Pedro on the penalty spot. Pedro put it in and pulled Fiorentina level, but they would need to win by (2) in order to avoid penalties.

Klopp was clearly not happy with the way his team played, even before they went in at the half his body language was telling the whole story. Liverpool found that next gear in the second half, but Fiorentina continued to put up a serious fight. Things got significantly more difficult at 56’ when Mohamed Salah scored a killer goal that had Lyanco crying foul. A throw in to Andrew Robertson led to a cross into the middle of the box, Salah was already a few steps beyond Lyanco and Fiorentina’s back line as he guided it into the net. The Brazilian CB had a few words for the refs, along with Montella, but they were waived off as Liverpool took a 2-1 aggregate lead. At 56’ Fiorentina got their miracle of a wonderful exchange of field changing passes. A throw in to Filip Jagiello on the right would be sent across the field to Talles Magno out wide, who would send the ball back over to the right to catch Riccardo Orsolini one-on-one with Robertson. His header couldn’t have been more perfectly timed, catching Alisson setting up to the right side of the net his header threaded between Robertson and Joe Gomez just beyond Alisson’s dive to tuck inside the opposite post right at the base. A hair in either direction would have found Alisson’s glove or bounced off the post. Momentum was on Fiorentina’s side, but Salah’s goal was killing them. Liverpool would be able to weather the assault and hold on to take the series on away goals.

The win would be impressive, but they would lose on away goals and have to watch Liverpool celebrate on their field. It was a tight game, tighter than anyone could have imagined, but Liverpool showed their quality by scoring a critical goal when it mattered. Klopp would go on to beat Barcelona in the final for their third straight Champions League title, losing to the eventual champion took some of the sting out of the loss but it's hard to think about how close they were to the title themselves.

Coppa Italia (N) : Fiorentina 3p - Juventus 3


Normally a Coppa Italia final wouldn’t rank as the most important game in a season involving a deep Champions League run and Fiorentina’s first Scudetto, but this involved Juventus. It wasn’t enough to be playing Juventus in this game, they just beat Juventus 2-0 in Serie A, this was Juventus’ chance to spoil Fiorentina’s run at a domestic double. While Fiorentina isn’t truly a rival to the Turin club in the sense that the two aren’t on the same level, it would be too much fun to spoil things for Montella. The fact that the second squad would be given the opportunity to finish what they started made a double seem even more unlikely, but that wouldn’t stop them.

This game would be elevated in I Viola lore not for winning, but for winning in just about the ugliest way possible. Montella took a risk by coming into this game with a single healthy RB, Pol Lirola, with Federico Marino and Smoke Monday injured Lirola being knocked out would be a disaster. Lirola was knocked out very early in the game, Montella’s only option was to dust off CB Matteo Gabbia and send him out.

Statistically, the two sides were almost identical. Fiorentina would enjoy possession as usual, but they struggled to make much of it with Gabbia blanking out one side of the attack. The first half basically consisted of both side trying to kick each other to the ground, both side racked up double digit fouls while failing to score. It wasn’t until 56’ when Marco Benassi broke the deadlock, and then the flood gates opened. Gonzalo Higuaín pulled Juventus level, and then Degnand Wilfried Gnonto put Fiorentina back up 2-1. Higuaín came back late at 89’ with a clutch goal to keep Juventus alive. Abdou Fall appeared to seal it for I Viola in extra time, but then Rodrigo Bentancur found enough energy to make it 3-3.

Improbably, Fiorentina was able to turn the game into a toss up by hanging on long enough to go to penalties. An exhausted Juventus had managed to fend off Fiorentina’s second squad, but in penalties it could be anyone’s game. Ironically, the heroes of the game became goats in penalties as Higuaín and Fall both missed on their attempts. Leonardo Bonucci was turned away by a solid Alban Lafont block before late sub Eugenio Barzini hammered it past Wojciech Szczesny to seal the victory. Just like that, Fiorentina completed their domestic double, elevating Montella to an I Viola legend and putting the rest of the league on notice.

IL DOPPIO VIOLA

Improbably, the second half of the season was more of a rampage than a challenge. Fans were understandably nervous after the second half collapse last year, but there would be little need to worry this time around. From January through the end of the season, Fiorentina didn’t lose a single game and drew only once in a 0-0 game against Lazio when the title was basically already theirs. They would lose twice in the Champions League, once to Arsenal and once to Liverpool, but outside of that they made quick work of everyone no matter who took the field. Even when they had the title in hand, they just kept going.

Earning a coccarda to go along with their scudetto was like a cherry on top of a magical season, the fact that they blew away Juventus by (21) points made it seem even more special. Even if the club fell apart next year, nobody would forget what Montella and the team had managed to accomplish.


INJURY REPORT

The secret of Fiorentina’s success might just be their injury record, it definitely helped Montella manage his two-squad approach and avoid leaning on U-20 players to fill in.

Unsurprisingly the wing backs were the most problematic area, Montella’s wing backs work hard and it can add up over a season. Pol Lirola was out for (2) weeks with an ankle injury, Luca Pellegrini was out twice with the longest absence (4) weeks after twisting his ankle in early February. Smoke Monday would also suffer a foot injury late in the season, costing him (2) weeks and basically ending his season. Roberto Cannata was ruled out for (4) weeks with a groin strain in a 3-1 win over Cagliari to open April, but that was it for the major injuries. A few player (Martin Terrier, Abdou Fall, and Degnand Wilfriend Gnonto) were knocked out for a few days with various knocks, but they rarely had much impact on team performance. After being decimated in his first season, it looks like Montella’s upgrades to the medical staff have really helped keep the team on the field.
A fantastic season! Congratulations on winning the league title and the Coppa Italia. The Champions League run was impressive and hopefully Montella can taste success in that competition very soon.

2021-22 YOUTH INTAKE & U-20 / U-18 PERFORMANCE

After a few years of great classes, with some of Vincenzo Montella’s first class already playing a major part in Fiorentina’s best season in history, they finally had a dud. It’s hard to fault the club, no matter how much money you pour into youth development you can’t always bring in future superstars. An aggressive transfer policy means that this isn’t a big deal, the club is spilling over with talent at just about every position so this is more like a mild disappointment than a major setback.

Žan Mitrović (CAM - Croatia) : Definitely the best candidate of this period, it’s almost like Montella crafted him. Very fast attacking midfielder who rates well as a finisher, passes very well, and shows above average to very good technique. Many scouts describe him as “determined” and he displays the kind of flair and creativity needed to manage to middle of Fiorentina’s attack. He has a lot of work to do to rise through the ranks, Fiorentina has a number of very good CAM that Mitrović is going to need to wait out. If he could also play a wing role it might help him advance, but for now he has bench / injury fill in upside with many years before he could make the senior squad.

Riccardo Marchesi (RB - Italy) : Oddly enough, with all of the buying and careful pruning Montella has done the organization is short on players that specialize at RB. Below the senior squad they only have (3) players dedicated to RB with a number of CB/RB players that mostly play CB. Marchesi was signed to bolster those numbers, it also didn’t hurt that he fits the physical profile Fiorentina is looking for. At 5’-10” and rather fast, with excellent physical ability, he’s worth the gamble. He’s also seen as a very dedicated player, so he might be able to improve himself to the point that he could make the bench. Much like Mitrović he’s probably years away from sniffing the senior squad and is probably going to spend more time out on loan than in purple.

U-20 : The U-20 squad is starting to become a dumping ground for Fiorentina’s talent as they age out of the U-18 side. Nearly half of all players on the roster are out on loan, and that trend is only going to get worse as the team continues to aggressively add youth talent. The best way to win the talent lottery is to buy as many tickets as possible, and so far it’s working out.

The U-20 side would win the Youth Club Invitational, their second in a row, with a 3-0 win over Hellas Verona. They would win the U-20 Cup with a stunning 8-1 aggregate victory over AC Milan, and they would take the UEFA Youth League with a 1-0 win over Ajax U-19. Like the senior squad they would romp over the U-20 Division 1, the next wave of I Viola players isn’t far away.

U-18 : Another dominant performance by Fiorentina’s youth, easily winning the U-18 Division 1 Group B and the playoff with a 5-3 win over Roma U-18. They would also demolish Cremonese 8-0 in the U-18 Italian Super Cup. There is a blend of weaker competition and aggressive transfer by Fiorentina, there are a lot of players here that would normally be in the U-20 squad but don’t have anywhere to go.

2020-21 POSTSEASON : KING’S OF ITALY

The players deserve a lot of credit, but this season was definitely the result of Vincenzo Montella’s hard work. He managed to build a squad able to contribute from so many different areas, the team lacked a dominant superstar but managed to be significantly more than the sum of its parts.

Fiorentina not only improved on their 1st place finish on offense and defense, they blew it away. The team would rank 1st in goals (103) and goal allowed (13), both records for Fiorentina, on their way to crushing everyone in the league. They managed to do this by spreading around the scoring, it cost them accolades but landed them silverware. Pedro was the highest scorer by far with (31) in all competitions, but his (24) was only good enough to rank 3rd in the league behind Andre Silva and Ronaldo at (27). Talles Magno (12), Degnand Wilfried Gnonto (12), Filip Jagiello (13), and Riccardo Orsolini (14) were in double digits but were well off the league pace. Only one player, Pelayo Morilla (12), had double digit assists with Evander (9) and Federico Marino (9) close.

The only accolades individuals managed to take home were Serie A Best Midfielder (Jagiello), Best Player (Florentino Firenze), Best Young Player (Firenze), and Best Defender (Firenze). Both of them had really incredible seasons, despite being in the second squad Firenze set a new record for highest average rating (7.88) to top Ronaldo’s 2020 (7.54), which would tie him with Jagiello. Jagiello would also tie for 1st in most PoM awards, truly impressive for a player that Genoa were basically throwing away.


Jagiello has already attracted suitors, could he be leaving soon?

The club was unable to commit to any improvements to their facilities, but inside sources report that Montella has pressed ownership on building a new stadium. Staying in the Champions League should help, winning Serie A managed to move Fiorentina up (17) places in the European Club index to 33rd, more of this could put them in the right kind of financial standing to make the upgrades needed.

2022-23 : HEAVY IS THE KIT THAT WEARS THE SCUDETTO

Vincenzo Montella finds himself elevated to a Saint in Florence, even if he never wins anything else again he’ll probably get a statue in his honor. Winning the league once is one thing, doing it again while also improving on the Champions League is another. The team isn’t waving a white flag yet, and they are prepared to defend their title, but teams like Juventus continue to outspend Fiorentina in all facets of the game.

It didn’t get out in the media, Montella and ownership are fairly careful about airing their grievances in public, but inside sources report that there is some tension around building a new stadium. Fiorentina is starting to pile up cash and attendance is rising, apparently Montella is more interested in building a new ground than ownership is at this point. On some level it makes sense, the team has money now but it’s hard to tell if that’s sustainable going forward. Putting money into transfers isn’t a long term solution, the team is going to need to be committed to building the infrastructure necessary to become a title contender every year.


How much more will this cost if they wait?

The important thing for Fiorentina to work toward is becoming more like the top tier teams and avoid the pitfalls everyone outside of Juventus have suffered. Both Milan teams are rapidly losing stature, and the last time a non-Juventus/AC Milan/Inter Milan team won the league was in 2000-01 (Roma). At this point, league history says Fiorentina are more likely to wait decades before winning the league again. Treading water until they can come close to the financial power of Juventus may be an impossible task.
Huge achievements being foreseen by all fans of Florence and a beautiful new stadium on the horizon would be the icing on the cake.

2022-23 ROSTER & TACTICS

Champions or not, the reality of the situation is that Fiorentina cannot afford to keep everyone from their record setting team. Financial limitations mean that a number of key players, in terms of talent and leadership, needed to be sold in order to get younger and a little cheaper. There’s also a little bit of a “ripping off the bandaid” approach here, if they tried to keep the squad from last year they would either risk people walking for free or losing value with a down season. There is still a solid core here, and Montella’s tactics are clearly at the core of their success.

Goalkeepers
No bandaid ripping here, Fiorentina would fend off numerous offers to keep these two in town. Bartłomiej Drągowski (24) is still the starter, he didn’t have the greatest year but he was solid enough behind Serie A’s best defense. He isn’t going anywhere unless he demands an obscene salary, and even then he’s under contract until 2026. Alban Lafont (23) settled into his backup role after penning a new deal, and he was just about as good as Drągowski. When Drągowski went down with an injury the transition was seamless, Montella is completely happy with this duo.

Best Player : Bartłomiej Drągowski

Defenders
Literally everyone from a stunning defense returns, which is going to be bad news for the rest of Serie A. Armando Izzo (30) and Lyanco (25) are still in charge of the central defense in the 1st squad with the high scoring duo of Roberto Cannata (18) and Alberigo Maldini (19) backing them up, this is one place where Montella could lose both 1st team members and still be in a great place. Nicolò Santoro (17) is going to bounce between the U-20 and senior squad as a bench option, it will take a lot of injuries to slow down this unit.

Luca Pellegrini (23) and Pol Lirola (24) return, despite numerous transfer offers, to man LB and RB for as long as Montella can keep them. Both of them are going to be looking over their shoulder as Florentino Firenze (19) and Federico Marino (17) have lived up to the hype, most fans think they are already better than Pellegrini and Lirola. Smoke Monday (17) is back as the utility wingback, he’s not nearly as good as the others but his ability to play both wingback roles makes him an indispensable bench option. He might end up playing in more games than anyone, he’ll just need long term injuries to make those starts. After buying just about anyone with promise who plays wingback Fiorentina has a laughable stockpile of players, Montella won’t be hurting for replacements but he certainly doesn’t have the quality on hand in the senior squad yet.

Best Player : Armando Izzo

Midfielders
Montella’s security blanket is gone and a total rebuild is in place. The most experienced and dependable part of the team is now one of the youngest, it’s going to be a wild ride. Maxence Caqueret (22) is now the old man of the double pivot, taking over the DLP position from Filip Jagiello who’s off to Barcelona. His backup will be youngster Daniele Albano (17) who stood in last year, he’s had a great run with the U-20 side and it seems like a good time to give him a chance at a permanent stay. Jude Bellingham (19) comes over from Cardiff after starting as a 16-year-old for Birmingham in the EFL Championship, he has quite a bit of experience as a starter but he’s really going to be thrown in the deep end next to Caqueret as the BBM. His backup is youngster Franck Blanc (17), he has a ton of promise and spent all of last year paired up with Albano. This could either be the foundation of a long run or a giant mess.

Pelayo Morilla (20) is the only returning starter in midfield, he’s proven to be an exciting playmaker and could be the focal point of another explosive offense. His backup will be U-20 superstar Nicolò Branzino (18), someone who has had scouts drooling about him for some time. He’s going to need a lot of work to get up to speed, but his ceiling is higher than Evander’s and there are a number of CAM willing to step in and take his place. Promising youngster Roman Mexès (17) is going to bounce between the senior and U-20 squad as a bench option at CAM after coming over from Lyon, this is the only position Fiorentina might spend money on in January if an injury or poor form leaves the roster hurting.

Best Player : Pelayo Morilla


Big changes in the midfield.

Forwards
The forwards only really lose one player, LW Martin Terrier, but there was a ready made replacement after having an excellent season in Milan. Talles Magno (20) owns LW, and he’s starting to draw attention from bigger clubs, and Daniel Maldini (20) is finally going to stay in Florence to back him up. RW still belongs to Riccardo Orsolini (25) as he continues to have underrated seasons, if there is any danger of selling him it’s because he’s the highest paid player on the squad but doesn’t quite play like it. Backing him up is Abdou Fall (19), who is rapidly becoming the most valuable member of Montella’s first class, he can also play LW if needed but he is clearly being groomed to take over for Orsolini. Eugenio Barzini (19) was really good off the bench at RW and should continue that trend, if any of the wingers get hurt things should keep going smoothly.

Pedro (25) returns as Montella’s offensive rock, (60) goals over the last two seasons with an ever increasing total (23, 29, 31) across all competitions makes him almost indispensable at this point. Montella manages to get goals from all over the place but Pedro consistently leads the team, losing him would hurt right now as nobody in the system is quite at his level. Degnand Wilfried Gnonto (19) had a solid first senior season, but there are still a number of CF just waiting to take his place. Hélder Lavado (18) is on loan at Porto, along with others up for his job, so he may have less to worry about this year unless he decides to start a fight over his contract.

Best Player : Pedro (Captain)
Jagiello off to Barcelona, wow. I guess he has merited such a move though!
2020-04-28 10:34#269272 ScottT : Jagiello off to Barcelona, wow. I guess he has merited such a move though!

I can't tell if my scouts missed on him or if theirs did. I'm being told he's a 3 Star player, but he's perfect for DLP. I know my tactic can inflate some guys, but that one was a head scratcher.

2022-23 KITS RELEASED

Boy, that escalated quickly. A simple subtle vertical striping approach suddenly became very crowded when Fiorentina added their first scudetto ever and their first coccarda since the 2000-01 season. Nobody will be shedding any tears for Fiorentina’s jumble of logos and patches, now they just need to try and keep them.


The team has signaled that they will mostly maintain the purple-white-red color scheme, with red being the primary third kit. Ownership isn’t interested in “wild” colors, even though the market seems to be there for them, you won’t see Fiorentina in any dayglow colors with sublimated graphics.
Very nice kits, particularly the home kit
Can I have a screenshot of Morilla, I want to see how he has developed for you, also his stats please :)
@Griffo - At Fiorentina with some specific training, and in my Manchester United save around the same date still at Sporting Gijon. Doing this made me realize what a load he his, I have no idea why he managed to lose weight at Fiorentina.



Thank you for sharing, he looks quality, I had him at Brescia in FM19 but he never set the world on fire

2022-23 PRESEASON : STAYING HOME


After a trip to the United States last year Montella was able to press ownership into keeping the team at home for training camp. Raising your profile abroad is nice, but continuing to win will do more for the team than a preseason marketing campaign ever could. The team hit the road quite a bit for friendlies, but most of them were mostly Italy-adjacent, and the time spent in France would double as a scouting trip with I Viola circling a few players at AS Saint-Étienne.

Friendly (H) : Fiorentina 6 - AS Saint-Étienne 0
Friendly Cup (A) : Rio Ave 0 - Fiorentina 9
Friendly Cup (A) : Austria Wien 0 - Fiorentina 3
Friendly (A) : Everton 0 - Fiorentina 4
Friendly (A) : PSG 0 - Fiorentina 1
Friendly (A) : Arezzo 0 - Fiorentina 8

The high scores do jump out, at least Montella has managed to keep the team on a level that should beat AS Saint-Étienne and Arezzo handily. The more impressive result turned out to be the firm beating of Everton, both teams played harder than you might expect from the preseason and Fiorentina earned the win. It’s hard to read too much into the win over PSG, they didn’t play their full strength team and seemed more interested in starting the season.

Maxence Caqueret and Jude Bellingham looked good and worked well in their new surroundings, hopefully the preseason prepared them for the rigors of a full season that includes Champions League football and a host of domestic competition ready to kick them in the shins every week.


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