PREVIEW: Fiorentina-SPAL – Can Iachini get his first win?

The first match of the Beppe Iachini era at Fiorentina did not end well, skipper German Pezzella giving away a senseless free kick on the edge of the box. Bologna equalised directly from the resulting set piece, meaning the Argentina international cost his side two precious points and prevented the new Coach from starting his tenure with a victory.

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What does the Iachini hire say about Fiorentina’s project?

In the opening scene in The Sopranos, Tony laments to his shrink Melfi that he got into the mob when it was already on the decline and that in life you should always thrive to join something from the ground up so you can enjoy the rise to the top.

In many ways Rocco Commisso got in at Fiorentina at the ideal time, the previous owners were despised, the team had just avoided relegation on the final day of the season and all of the club’s supporters were desperate for a breath of fresh air after some frustrating seasons.

Commisso showed a lot of enthusiasm for his new venture, he immediately started talking about an ambitious plan to get the team back to Europe, build a new training facility and work with the city on a new stadium. When it came to the actual squad, Fiorentina’s new owner had to however deal with a crisis from jump street- Federico Chiesa, the club’s most famous player, had agreed to personal terms with Juventus and was pushing to join them.

Commisso didn’t want to lose his most beloved star to the team’s hated rival right at the start of his tenure, so he was able to convince Chiesa to stay. While Commisso got off to a slow start in the transfer window, in the final weeks of the summer window, sporting director Prade’ was able to acquire Boateng, Pulgar before splurging on Frank Ribery, who would go on to win the award for best Serie A player of the month.

By the end of September there was a lot of enthusiasm surrounding Fiorentina. After a brutal schedule to start the season, the Viola started playing quite well with midfielder Castrovilli breaking out. While many were puzzled with the decision to keep Vincenzo Montella despite the fact he had been hired by the previous ownership, Commisso was praised for his patience.

But then the losing streak started, Ribery got injured, Chiesa started missing games again with some questioning his commitment to the club and following the home defeat to Lecce on November 30th, many expected Montella to be gone. But instead Commisso and Prade’ showed faith in their manager, a rare occurrence in Italy, but in the process they lost out on hiring Rino Gattuso who officially joined Napoli on December 11th with a contract that guaranteed him a salary just through the end of the current season.

During multiple interviews, Commisso had praised Gattuso publicly by pointing to his grinta and their common heritage from Calabria. Considering how much Milan struggled under his successors Marco Giampaolo and Stefano Pioli, Gattuso’s reputation had also improved quite a bit as a manager when you consider he had the rossoneri still contending for a Champions League spot going into second half of final match of the season.

Gattuso would have checked a lot of the boxes for what Fiorentina was looking for- he had Serie A experience, had taken over a team mid season and was a very recognizable name that would have brought some positive press to the club. Instead Commisso ended up hiring Beppe Iachini to replace Montella.

Iachini’s last job was at Empoli where he took over at the beginning of November only to be replaced by his predecessor Andreazzoli by mid March. At least you can say Iachini has a lot of experience trying to save teams- prior to Andreazzoli, he had also replaced Gattuso at Palermo, De Canio at Udinese and Bucchi at Sassuolo during the season.

Numerous reports state that Commisso wanted someone used to fighting in the relegation race as well as a candidate familiar with Florence. Iachini was a very popular player for Fiorentina in the late 80s and is well liked by the fan base, but he’s certainly not a name that will excite people abroad who had started following Fiorentina following the Ribery signing.

In fact, all the buzz surrounding Fiorentina from the late summer had some assuming the Tuscan club would be in the mix for huge names like Pochetino, Allegri or at least an intriguing name like Marcelino or Spalletti. But the former Spurs and Juventus managers have much higher aspirations (and a significant paycheck from their former employers), and while Spalletti is a Tuscan and a Fiorentina fan, hiring him would have been a very expensive proposition as Milan found out when they were replacing Giampaolo.

Ultimately Commisso went with a familiar and pragmatic choice with Iachini rather than gambling on a bigger name like Marcelino or Laurent Blanc who was the last second candidate. The hope is that Iachini can get the squad to calmer waters in the short term and set the club up for an ambitions summer transfer window, but at the moment his hire feels like a step down from all the excitement from the beginning of the Commisso era- even starting at the ground floor with the best intentions does not guarantee success.


Fiorentina hire Iachini after ousting Montella

Fiorentina announced Saturday morning that they have relieved Vincenzo Montella from his duties as head coach following the Friday night’s 1-4 romp against Roma. La Viola have not won since October 30th and have accumulated five losses and two draws in the past seven rounds. They are currently 14th in the standings, four points above the last three places and 11 away from the Europa League zone. On Monday, the club announced to have reached agreement with Giuseppe Iachini on a 18-month contract, which reportedly includes an out clause at the end of the season.

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PREVIEW: Fiorentina-Roma

A huge Friday night game awaits at the Stadio Artemio Franchi, AS Roma travelling north to take on a Fiorentina side in desperate need of a positive result. Having lost their four previous Serie A fixtures, La Viola bounced back with a stunning draw against Inter on Sunday, Dusan Vlahovic’s late strike securing a share of the points for Vincenzo Montella’s men.

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What to Watch for in Serie A: Round 16

In the wonderfully enthralling world of Serie A calcio, it can be incredibly difficult to keep up with the current news, developing storylines, team performances and individual efforts on a weekly basis. This is where we come in.

As we head into round 16 of play on Italian soil, and rapidly approach the midway point of the 2019/20 season, we will begin to establish what is worth keeping an eye on and what should be less of a priority.

Here are five things to watch for in Serie A this weekend. Continue reading

PREVIEW: Fiorentina-Inter is a fixture not to be missed

A game not to be missed on Sunday as Inter visit the Stadio Artemio Franchi for the latest meeting with Fiorentina, a side who have repeatedly caused problems for the Nerazzurri in recent seasons. Indeed, La Viola have won three of their last six – and two of the last three – home games against the Milanese giants, a record they will be looking to extend this weekend.

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PREVIEW: Torino-Fiorentina

Two teams in poor form meet this Sunday, neither Torino nor Fiorentina pleased with the start they have made to the 2019/20 season. Both began the campaign with aspirations of returning to European action, but the Granata – who have won just twice since September – sit tenth, just one point and three league places above their next opponents.

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Three Midfield Options for Juventus

Four months into the Maurizio Sarri era and Juventus remain undefeated, both in domestic and European play. While most of the bianconeri’s wins have been close affairs, there have been glimpses of Sarriball in full flow. Paulo Dybala has returned to his typical lofty standards while Gonzalo Higuain has redeemed himself following indifferent loan spells. At the back, Leonardo Bonucci and Matthijs de Ligt have formed a formidable partnership, backstopping the Italian champions. In midfield, however, concerns remain.

Beyond Miralem Pjanic, Sarri has rotated Blaise Matuidi, Sami Khedira and Rodrigo Bentancur among others but is yet to establish his best midfield three. After all, other than the Bosnian international, they all lack the necessary quality to play for Sarri. As a result, Juventus need reinforcements in the middle of the park. Here are three names within Serie A they can target when the window reopens in January.

Sandro Tonali (Brescia) - The midfield maestro has been in sensational form since making the step up to the top flight and would fit like a glove in Sarri’s possession-based system. In many ways, Tonali could play in the Jorginho-role as a regista while Pjanic is pushed higher up the pitch, making further use of his creativity. While many have likened his play to that of Andrea Pirlo due to his passing range, he’s no slouch defensively and is tenacious without the ball.

Given his quality on the ball and his desire to win it back off it, he should be a no-brainer for Juve. Factor in that he hasn’t even hit 20 years old yet and he’s the ideal long-term solution to the bianconeri’s midfield woes. Juventus are said to be keeping tabs on the midfielder and will reportedly pursue his signature this summer.

Lorenzo Pellegrini (Roma) - While the Roma midfielder isn’t for sale, he’s exactly the type of player Juventus need in the middle of the park. Equally capable of covering ground as he is picking a deadly ball, Pellegrini is the definition of a modern midfielder. This season, Pellegrini already has registered six assists in eight Serie A games and has taken his game to the next level under Paulo Fonseca.

At just 23 years of age, Pellegrini has a long career ahead of him both domestically and internationally. Juventus were reportedly keeping tabs on the player in the past and their sporting director Fabio Paratici is said to be a big fan of the Roma man. Juventus and Roma have done business in the past and have demonstrated they are willing to work together on the transfer market. It may be unlikely, but few players fit Sarri’s Juve better than Pellegrini.

Gaetano Castrovilli (Fiorentina)Sticking with the theme of technical Italian midfielders, Fiorentina’s Castrovilli is another player Juventus should seriously consider. Rather than focusing their efforts and budget on his teammate, Federico Chiesa, the bianconeri would be wise to monitor Castrovilli’s progression. Since emerging onto the scene, the 22-year-old has won over the viola faithful with his industrious nature and is slowly evolving his game.

While he still has improvements to make across his game, Castrovilli is a good dribbler and could hurt the opposition in possession. Without the ball, the Fiorentina man is responsible and is eager to put in a shift. In many ways, his game is eerily reminiscent of young Claudio Marchisio. However, let’s pump the brakes for now. For one, he has a long way to go and most importantly, Fiorentina are unlikely to give Juve another one of their home-town boys.

All three players are youthful, technical players who would allow Sarri to further implement his footballing philosophy at Juve and are arguably available for the right price. Tonali may be the likeliest of the three given his team, but Juve would be foolish not to consider Pellegrini or Castrovilli.

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Lazio’s sensational form is no coincidence – they’ve fixed two long-standing issues


Nothing beats a late winner.

That’s what Lazio have learned lately, most recently when Felipe Caicedo swivelled his hips and fired a shot into the bottom corner to snatch victory at Sassuolo last weekend.

It was a crucial goal, one that saw the capital club pull two points clear of Roma and Cagliari in third place and continue their outstanding domestic form with a fifth consecutive Serie A victory.

But after the dust settled, there was another great positive to take from the game. Continue reading

Fiorentina-Lecce Preview: Chiesa left out of the squad

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.

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