DECEMBER : ANYONE WHO WANTS TO CAN COME START IN THE BACK LINE
Coppa Italia - TIM Cup (H) : Fiorentina 2 - Lecce 0
A slow month, only four fixtures, might be a blessing for the broken remnants of I Viola. Montella is pulling anyone with a pulse into the side, starting 16-year old Romaric Guedegbe at LB is as bad as it gets so far. Facing Lecce in the Coppa Italia is probably the best place for this to happen, even if Guedegbe is the youngest player to even start in the Coppa Italia, it’s better to get this out of the way here instead of the league.
Franck Ribéry would make things easier with an early goal at 7’, and then the frustration of dominating an opponent without scoring started to settle in. Getting off (14) shots by the half with only a single goal doesn’t look good, but being up 1-0 can ease the pain. Lecce did manage a few solid chances, most of them coming off deep passes to Diego Farias streaking through the central defense. Farias’ day would end at 66’ when the frustration of Pol Lirola’s defense boiled over into an unnecessary tackle on the sidelines. The hard tackle left Lirola limping and Farias saw straight red for his efforts.
Pedro would manage an 85’ goal on a low cross from Lirola, his second of the game, and the victory was sealed. Fiorentina would draw Atalanta in the next round, a much harder test.
Serie A (A) : Sassuolo 4 - Fiorentina 2
On the road at Sassuolo turned out the be the time to pay the piper. If playing Guedegbe was a low point this would be a steep drop off from that as he would make another start at LB and be joined by 17-year old Jonathan Spedalieri at CB and a tired Jacob Rasmussen. Backup RB Lorenzo Venuti would be the best defender on the field, Sassuolo would be licking their chops at this matchup.
“We are dealing with some injuries,” said Montella, managing to smile through the pain “we will have new players, they will have to do their best.”
Right away things looked bad, especially at the back, and the cobbled together roster looked a little lost. Spedalieri was easily the worst, being dropped into the senior squad wasn’t something he was ready to handle. He played players onsides, didn’t push forward at times, booted the ball into Sassuolo’s defense instead of playing passes to Fiorentina’s wings or Erick Pulgar dropping deep to receive the ball, and threw himself into tackles in a desperate attempt to avoid being beaten. Grégoire Defrel was the first to get the better of him, being played onside he was released by a through ball and scored easily with Fiorentina’s defense on its heels.
Dušan Vlahović would be handed a gift not long after Defrel’s goa, it literally came off the ensuing kickoff. Riccardo Sottil lost control of the ball as he hit a clump of Sassuolo defenders and Manuel Locatelli tried to clear the ball but it flew back and hit Sottil to send the ball flying back toward Sassuolo’s goal. Normally this wouldn’t have an issue, Vlahović was well behind the central defenders after making a run for Sottil, but Federico Peluso was playing Vlahović onside and well wide so he had no way of intervening. Vlahović was there just as the ball hit the ground and stroked it past a confused Andrea Consigli who immediately began yelling at the ref along with manager Roberto De Zerbi. After a long break that involved a lot of yelling, gesturing, and finger pointing at the refs the goal stood and things were level 1-1.
Defrel would add to Fiorentina’s woes after terrorizing Spedalieri when he baited the teenager into tripping him in the box. The tackle was so bad it earned a straight red and because it was in the box a limping Defrel got to sit by and watch Francesco Caputo give Sassuolo a 2-1 lead. Montella wouldn’t even look at Spedalieri as he left the pitch, bringing on Martín Cáceres for Vlahović and setting up a 4-2-3. With a man advantage Sassulo took over the game, Fiorentina were lucky to head into the half only down 2-1, but it wouldn’t last long. Defrel would score again at 56’, Cáceres wasn’t doing much better than Spedalieri to contain him, and the rout appeared to be on. Sottil would manage to score at 61’, providing some hope, but the game dragged into stoppage time with Fiorentina never looking like finding an equalizer before Defrel completed his hat trick.
Serie A (H) : Fiorentina 1 - Lazio 1
With the transfer window looming Montella threw everyone who could still stand at this game. Having essentially the first team squad at his disposal looked good with the exception of being forced to play Martín Cáceres at LB. He might as well have put a training dummy out there, but the rules don’t allow for that (yet).
Lazio folded rather quickly, a surprise considering their roster, but Fiorentina couldn’t put anything together. Sergej Milinkovic-Savic was a ghost, perhaps he had his eye on a move to Manchester United, but it really allowed Fiorentina to control possession in the middle. A bad omen would be Pedro missing a penalty at 16’ after he was knocked over in the box by Bastos, the pleas for a red card as he had a great opening to score were ignored. Even after 16’, a 1-0 lead could swing this game, and Pedro never really seemed to recover from it. It wasn’t until the second half that Fiorentina found their 1-0 lead, Kevin Prince-Boateng would be in the right place at the right time as shot from Erick Pulgar bounced off Thomas Strakosha’s fist and went right to Price-Boateng for an easy goal.
Dominating shots, possession, and getting fouled left and right on Lazio’s way to having (7) players booked made it look like I Viola had this in the bag. Even Cáceres looking lost didn’t seem to be a problem right up until it was a massive problem. At 83’ Joaquín Correa received the ball just barely on Fiorentina’s side of the half, ran around wide with Cáceres in his dust, rounded the defense and took a shot to the far side of the net that went in. Just like that, the lead was gone and Fiorentina never got it back. A draw against a team of Lazio’s quality is a bit of a win, but those (3) points would have been big.
Martín Cáceres is a terrible LB.