The season has not gone well so far for Fiorentina, last week’s dire loss to Hellas Verona pushing them down to 10th in the table. Injuries have certainly played their part, but at this stage there is no denying the fact that both Vincenzo Montella and his squad have underperformed up to this point of the Serie A campaign.
“It was not a good performance and we made a lot of technical errors, but also conceded a great goal during our best period of the match,” the Coach told DAZN after that most recent defeat. “I know there are always going to be difficult moments for a team. There were reasons for our defeat to Cagliari, while today we made technical errors. The moment must come when we react to these setbacks too.”
This is most certainly that moment, with newly promoted Lecce visiting the Stadio Artemio Franchi after eight matches without a win and looking like one of the worst teams in the division. Yet they boast an oddly good record in previous meetings with La Viola, winning on three of their last six visits to Florence, although it must be noted that this fixture has not been played at all in the past seven years.
“Since the third matchday, we’ve been outside of the relegation zone and that’s the way I would like to keep it until the end of the season,” Coach Fabio Liverani – who played for Fiorentina from 2006-08 – said recently. “That’s the objective. Except for the Atalanta game, we have done very well, even today we didn’t deserve to lose.
Even so, they will be a tough test for Fiorentina once again, earning five draws in their last six outings including stalemates with AC Milan, Juventus and fourth-placed Cagliari. The latter of those encounters was a particularly ill-tempered affair that saw three players sent off including Lecce striker Gianluca Lapadula.
A ban for Lapadula – alongside an injury to Filippo Falco – could mean former Fiorentina forward Khouma Babacar is moved into the starting XI, while the Salentini have only one other injury concern as defender Žan Majer faces a late fitness test.
Sadly for Fiorentina, they too have an issue at the back where skipper German Pezzella has been ruled out for three weeks. The Argentina international was hit with a recurrence of the fractured cheekbone he initially suffered back in May, undergoing surgery this week after being struck again during the meeting with Hellas Verona.
Federico Chiesa is once again left out of the squad due to a “slight calf” problem, the winger also dropped last weekend with the Coach asking him to focus on delivering on the field for his club side after netting while on international duty.
“Chiesa is happy at scoring his first goal for Italy, but we expect a lot from him, we want him to score for us too.” the Coach told Sky Italia and, with just two goals to his name so far this term, it is clear the 22-year-old still has a long way to go.
FIORENTINA (3-5-2): Dragowski; Milenkovic, Ceccherini, Caceres; Lirola, Pulgar, Badelj, Castrovilli, Dalbert; Ribery, Vlahovic
Lecce (4-3-1-2): Gabriel; Rispoli, Lucioni, Rossettini, Calderoni; Petriccione, Tachtsidis, Tabanelli; Shakhov; Farias, La Mantia