Birthday Boys Fiorentina Go For The Win

Fiorentina have waited an extra seven days to kick of their 2018/19 campaign, their match away to Sampdoria postponed due to the tragic bridge collapse in Genoa last week. Stefano Pioli’s men will therefore end the wait for domestic action to begin at home to Chievo on Sunday, their opposition having put up a valiant fight versus Juventus on Week One, when they eventually succumbed to a 3-2 defeat.

Reaching the Europa League this season is very much the target for Fiorentina, and it will be interesting to see how Pioli can do with the advantage of a whole year’s experience with this group. Last summer saw the entire squad overhauled and a young team quickly assembled, however a number of key additions in this season’s window gives the Coach a solid platform from which to build upon.

“Fiorentina begin the season with the pain for the loss of our captain, Davide Astori, still very much present,” Viola sporting director Pantaleo Corvino told Sky Italia this week. “On the other hand, we are the youngest squad in Serie A, built from the era that began last season also with Davide.

 “We are optimistic, as the club owners made a real effort to keep the best players and improve the squad with new arrivals. This gives us hope for both the present and the future. I hope it’s a stronger Fiorentina than last term, hungrier and more determined.”

 Without a fixture last week, the Viola arranged a friendly with Arezzo this week in order to obtain some match practice, and ran out 2-1 winners thanks to a Valentin Eysseric strike and a penalty from former Aston Villa midfielder Jordan Veretout. The latter will be missing from Pioli’s 4-3-3 on Sunday due to suspension, with Marco Benassi and Bryan Dabo expected to join new signing Gerson in the midfield three.

Chievo will of course be missing star goalkeeper Stefano Sorrentino who – after making a string of excellent saves versus Cristiano Ronaldo – suffered a broken nose and whiplash after a nasty collision with the former Real Madrid man. This will give Fiorentina hope that they can register their opening victory of the campaign, coupled with the fact that they have won their last eight consecutive home matches versus the Veronese outfit, keeping a clean sheet in five of those attempts.

Of course, the main talking point will be the Tuscan side’s newly-formed attacking trident, consisting of existing jewels Federico Chiesa and Giovanni Simeone alongside Croatia international Marko Pjaca. The latter winger arrived on loan from Juventus with an option to buy, and looks set to be a real asset in completing the star-studded young attack.

Goalkeeper Alban Lafont – dubbed the “French [Gianluigi] Donnarumma” by many media outlets – will also make his highly-anticipated debut for the club after arriving from Toulouse this summer. The 19-year-old replaced last season’s stopper Marco Sportiello after the club failed to take the option to buy on the latter player, leading many to think that Corvino has great faith in the new man.

 A win on the team’s 92nd birthday would be keenly celebrated by supporters in Florence, a sure-fire way to kick off the new campaign in style.

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