Yes, you read that subheader correctly. The last time Fiorentina won 3 straight in Serie A was in late September 2019. Having knocked off Atalanta in Bergamo last time out, Genoa is the only thing standing between the Viola and a genuine winning streak. In 112 previous meetings, the good guys hold a W47 D40 L25 mark that plummets to W1 D7 L2 over their last 10, including a 1-1 draw in this fixture last year.
The referee for this one is 36-year-old Livio Marinelli of Tivoli, who’ll be handling just his 12th Serie A game. In his previous 11, he’s handed out 44 yellow cards, 1 red card, and 2 penalties, which certainly look like the numbers of a ref who’s happy to let the players get on with minimal interjection, so don’t be surprised to see a rugged game. This’ll be his first Fiorentina game, so let’s reserve judgement for now.
The match will be played on Saturday, 18 September 2021, at 2:00 PM GMT/9:00 AM EST, at the Stadio Luigi Ferraris in Genoa. The forecast looks absolutely rotten, too: while it won’t be especially cold, it’s been pouring in Liguria for the past several days and shows no signs of letting up. There’s lightning predicted as well, so don’t be shocked if there’s a delay or even a postponement.
It’s been quite a turnaround for this new edition of Fiorentina. An impressive loss at AS Roma in the opener followed up by wins over Torino and at Atalanta have the supporters feeling pretty pleased with the team’s trajectory. Now in 8th place, stacked with talent on the pitch and vision on the bench, and facing what could be a bright future, now might be the time to buy stock in Firenze’s finest.
Manager Vincenzo Italiano will miss RB Lorenzo Venuti (shoulder) but has everyone else available. That said, he’s got a lot of decisions to make. He’ll probably bring Bartłomiej Drągowski back to the XI and there’s a good chance that Matija Nastasić or Lucas Martínez Quarta will replace Igor in defense. Lucas Torreira and Erick Pulgar are competing for the regista spot (the former’s got a slight edge) while Alfred Duncan, Gaetano Castrovilli, and Sofyan Amrabat will scrap for the spot next to Giacomo Bonaventura in the middle.
Genoa want to press constantly and all over the pitch, so how Fiorentina evade that pressure will be the biggest factor in deciding this one. Aside from that, they’re poor in the air, so attacking set pieces should be a focus for the visitors, which makes sense since Nicolás González and Dušan Vlahović are Serie A’s most fouled players. With Genoa likely to press high, that pair will just need to roll a marker to find a lot of space to run into, which could lead to a host of free kicks.
They’ve lost two and won once, but the Grifoni have looked dangerous this year. While they got steamrolled by Inter Milan in the opener, they gave Napoli all the Partenopei could handle and overturned a 2-0 deficit at Cagliari for the win. Following last year’s 11th-place finish, it seems like the Rossoblù may be building a quietly sustainable mid-table project after a few seasons of hovering around the drop zone.
Manager Davide Ballardini won’t have CM Francesco Cassata and will sweat the fitness of ex-Viola DM Milan Badelj (back) and CF Felipe Caicedo (thigh), although both will probably start from the bench. Ballardini’s a 3-5-2 guy all the way, so that’s how Genoa will line up. The danger man is probably Mattia Destro, although somehow Goran Pandev is also still in the XI, while Nicolò Rovella is usually tasked with pulling the strings from midfieldd.
The Grifoni aren’t all that interested in keeping the ball and look to move it forward quickly. While Destro and Pandev aren’t really aerial targets, the wingbacks will attack the back post and make up for in numbers what they lack in height. The real plan is to work the channels, though, and hope the front two can link up on quick attacks. Against a high line with attacking fullbacks, that could pay dividends, so Fiorentina’s defenders will need to communicate really well to keep them out.
How to watch
TV: Maybe BeIn? Check the full international television listings to be sure, but you’re probably going to stream this one.
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Ted’s Memorial Blind Guess Department
There’s obviously a lot of confidence in Fiorentina right now, and the talent and coaching match it. While Genoa look an underrated and dangerous outfit, they don’t have the firepower the Viola do in Vlahović and González, which is why the betting houses have the away side as favorites.
I’m calling it a 1-3 win for the good guys, with Vlahović, Nicola Milenković, and Riccardo Sottil scoring a penalty, a set piece header, and a late counter to salt it away respectively, with Pandev (because geriatric forwards always strike against Fiorentina) getting one for the bad guys in an up-and-down game marred by a bushel of fouls from the hosts.
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