It’s easy to think Fiorentina’s 1-1 draw at the Stadio Artemio Franchi versus AS Roma was a fantastic result when viewed in isolation. It meant the Viola remain unbeaten at home and are currently five points behind 4th place, a finish that would secure Champions League football for next season.
Roma were semi-finalists in that aforementioned competition last term, making the result look even more valuable than the one point handed to Stefano Pioli’s side afterwards. Yet a deeper look reveals unresolved issues at the Tuscan club, the 1-1 last Saturday their third match with this scoreline in a row. Indeed, their last victory came on September 30th at home to Atalanta, a long time ago in the fast-paced world of football.
Fiorentina were defensively resolute versus a Giallorossi side determined to attack last weekend, and have only conceded nine goals – just one more than league leaders Juventus – in total this term. A stable back four and a new role for midfielder Jordan Veretout deployed slightly in front of them has brought about this solidity, however it is in the creative department where the team are really struggling.
Their goal versus Roma came from a dubious penalty call awarded for a foul by Robin Olsen on striker Giovanni Simeone. It was expertly finished by Veretout but the Viola have scored just once from open play in their last five matches, a warning sign that must be addressed quickly by Pioli.
“It was a balanced and hard-fought game. When you play against such a strong opponent, you know they can score a goal at any moment,” the Coach told Sky Italia. “I can’t really complain about the lads, because we played with character and on level terms against a very strong Roma side. We were very dangerous in attack, but didn’t have the right determination or precision to finish off our chances and kill off the game.”
His side take 13.5 shots on average per match, the 9th most in the league. This is just about consistent with their position of 8th in the table, however if they want to move up that list they really must improve in this regard. Getting shots on target seems to be slightly less of a problem, Fiorentina’s rate of 4.8 per match on average leaving them 7th in the standings for this particular stat.
However, taking away the 6-1 win over Chievo in the first match of the campaign would leave the Viola with just eleven strikes in ten matches, a shocking lack of goals following that superb opener.
So what next?
A match away to struggling Frosinone on Friday night will be tough, but the fixture does provide a way for Fiorentina to get back into the scoring habit before the international break. Pioli’s 4-3-3 doesn’t seem to provide optimum conditions for creating chances, and so a change of system could be a smart gamble here. The tactician is renowned for using 4-2-3-1, and reverting to it should provide the key to unlocking the often stubborn backline of this weekend’s opponents. With Veretout now well-practiced in the holding midfield role, Gerson or Bryan Dabo could join him in a more defensive central pairing, allowing Fiorentina to showcase all the creative attacking talent their squad possesses.
Federico Chiesa, Marko Pjaca and Kevin Mirallas – or even Marco Benassi – could all be deployed behind striker Simeone, a trident that would surely create plenty of chances for the out-of-form number nine. This would leave the more than capable defense to deal with any issues created by Frosinone on the break, and allow a more potent attack to raise confidence levels by securing a comprehensive victory.
Fiorentina proved in that opening match with Chievo that they can be extremely dangerous going forward, but a lull like the one suffered in recent times can usually only be rectified by making a change. Even a slight tweak would psychologically refresh their collective mindset, hopefully giving this young side more freedom to play in a carefree fashion by relieving the pressure that is currently upon them.
“We are not worried, although the last two games were somewhat difficult,” Veretout admitted to Roma TV before last weekend’s encounter between the two sides. “We have faith and the fans believe in us too. It’s been good that we have found a way to emerge with a result and not lose by being solid in defence. Now we need to get back to being effective in attack too.”
The 25-year-old is spot on in his assessments, and a match versus Frosinone is the perfect time to do just that.
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