Fiorentina doesn’t get long to celebrate its first win streak in two years after dispatching Genoa, as reigning champions Inter Milan come to town for a rare midweek match. In 181 previous meetings, the Viola hold a W49 D57 L75 mark, including W1 D5 L4 over the past 10 in the league. This fixture last year resulted in a 0-2 loss that could’ve been a lot worse if not for some goalkeeper heroics.
The referee for this one is 37-year-old Michael Fabbri of Ravenna, who’ll be making his Serie A debut for the season. In 97 previous matches, he’s handed out 453 yellow cards, 17 red cards, and 32 penalties; he’s also served suspensions for missed calls in the past, so don’t be shocked if he does something wacky here. Under his eye, Fiorentina hold a W4 D3 L4 record. We last saw him in the 2-1 loss against Lazio a couple years ago, when he dropped one of the worst refereeing performances you’ll see.
The match will be played on Tuesday, 21 September 2021, at 6:45 PM GMT/2:45 PM EST, at the Stadio Artemio Franchi in beautiful Firenze. The forecast calls for a lovely evening, as the rain is expected to dry up by mid-morning, which should leave for a cool, partly cloudy day; although the wind could pick up pretty heavily around kickoff, it should be very, very nice.
Through four matches, Fiorentina have gathered 12 points. That’s enough to put them in 5th place and good for their best start since 2015-2016, although their goal difference is just +1 and they’ve yet to keep a clean sheet. Still, the team is winning and winning with style, which is enough to get everyone’s attention and bring joy to a fanbase that’s suffered through a pretty rough stretch.
Manager Vincenzo Italiano won’t have CM Gaetano Castrovilli (ribs) or RB Lorenzo Venuti (shoulder), while LW Nicolás González will likely start from the bench if he’s available at all. That means we should see Ricky S on both wings as Saponara and Sottil slot in. Nikola Milenković will return to the defense, while Alfred Duncan and Lucas Torreira ought to round out the midfield next to Giacomo Bonaventura.
The Viola will look to dictate the tempo here by moving the ball around quickly, attempting to find creases in the defense or favorable 1-v-1 matchups. Sottil’s dynamism on the ball could make him a dangerous outlet against Ivan Perišić, while Saponara will look to pull the strings on the other side. Really, though, this one’s all about whether Dušan Vlahović can win his battles with some really talented Inter defenders. If he does, he’ll put his side in a good position to score. That means it’s up to his teammates to find him in the right areas and feed him chances.
The reigning champions are also leading the league at the moment thanks to the division’s best attack (3.75 goals per game) despite losing Romelu Lukaku, Achraf Hakimi, and manager Antonio Conte. They’re fresh off a 6-1 bulldozing of Bologna and seem to be picking up right where they left off. The only caveats here are that they’re in the midst of a tough fortnight (at Fiorentina, vs Atalanta, at Shakhtar Donetsk, at Sassuolo) that could leave them exhausted, and that they’re yet to face a top-half side, were held to a draw at Sampdoria, and lost late on to Real Madrid last week.
Manager Simone Inzaghi won’t have CM Stefano Sensi (knee), CM Arturo Vidal (thigh), CM Christian Eriksen (heart), or CF Joaquín Correa (hip), so he won’t get to rotate as much as he’d like. That means we’ll likely see something like his top XI, with Hakan Çalhanoğlu returning to midfield and Edin Džeko and Lautaro Martínez up front in Inzaghi’s beloved 3-5-2.
Expect the visitors to sit a bit deeper and invite their hosts forward before looking to play Martínez into the channels, especially with Fiorentina’s fullbacks looking a bit suspect defensively. They’ll also be a serious threat from set piece, as Çalhanoğlu’s delivery is typically good and those big defenders (especially man-in-form Milan Skriniar) offer inviting targets in the box. If Inzaghi wants to change rhythm, though, he can rely on his midfield to keep the ball as well as Fiorentina’s can, although his men haven’t faced an opponent this year who presses with the intensity the Viola bring, which could disrupt their tempo.
How to watch
TV: Despite this being the week’s marquee match, doesn’t look likely. Check the full international television listings just in case, though.
Online: Here is your list of safe, reliable, and legal streams.
Ted’s Memorial Blind Guess Department
There’s a reason Inter are big favorites in this one: they’re the Scudetto holders, they just hammered Bologna, and they have a bigger name. The smart money is probably backing them. Since we’re not about smart money here, I’ll mention the fixture congestion, the fact that Fiorentina have generally stuck pretty close in these fixtures of late without actually winning them, and the fact that the Nerazzurri haven’t notched any quality wins yet.
Therefore, I’ll call it a 2-2 draw, with Vlahović striking from the spot and Sottil notching a solo effort while Martínez on the break and Skriniar from a free kick cancel them out. I’d also put pretty good odds on a PK being given (because Fabbri) and a very entertaining, back-and-forth match that leaves everyone breathless and wanting more.
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