Fiorentina Club Focus: No victory for La Viola but still plenty of positives
It was going to happen sooner or later, and though Fiorentina’s spectacular winning run finally came to an end at Torino on Sunday afternoon, the character and determination shown in securing a point will have made for heartening viewing for coach Vincenzo Montella.
Winning at a canter with a fully fit squad at your disposal is all well and good, but historically, the truly successful sides have always been able to grind out a result in the face of a string of trying circumstances.
To say that the first 45 minutes at the Stadio Olimpico did not pan out as Montella might have hoped would be an understatement.
In addition to both Alberto Aquilani and Luca Toni having to be withdrawn through injury, the familiar face of Alessio Cerci – one of the villains of last season’s ill-fated campaign – was allowed to steal in unmarked at the back post and steer home his new side’s opener.
It was the type of match in which last season’s side, low on confidence, wracked with indiscipline and seemingly unable or unwilling to claw their way back into such an occasion, would probably have capitulated.
Montella’s side are cut from a different cloth however, and though forced to install frontman Adem Ljajic into the midfield whilst deploying the largely inexperienced Haris Seferovic in attack, they showed great resilience before drawing level through a Gonzalo Rodriguez penalty 15 minutes from time.
Having again fallen behind almost instantly when Valter Birsa’s looping cross evaded everybody before nestling in the bottom corner, a refusal to accept defeat saw Mounir El Hamdaoui find the space needed in the Torino box to control with his left before steering in a superb equaliser with his right.
On the face of it, a draw against one of the newly promoted sides having come into the weekend on the back of five straight wins might in other circumstances have been a huge disappointment, but Montella rightly sought to dwell on the positives in his post-match press conference.
As reported on the club’s official website, he said: “It was an open game, a very open game. The two teams have different characteristics and [a different] look about them. I thought [we] showed maturity against an opponent that matched us.
“We tried to play our game, especially in the second half when we tried to quicken the pace. Our sloppiness and Torino’s strength led to their counter-attacking and they could have scored more. Obviously, when you try to force a pass or a play you risk being countered, especially against a team like Torino.
“I think, looking back, both teams showed a desire to win the match. Both teams could have won the match and perhaps both teams deserved to win it for how they read and played the game.”
Wednesday night’s visit of Serie B outfit Juve Stabia in the Coppa Italia represents a perfect opportunity to get back to winning ways, though Montella will have to do without Toni, who was taken to hospital following a clash of heads with Torino’s Kamil Glik. He was later discharged having been given the all clear, but will undergo further scans on Thursday.
Whether or not Stevan Jovetic will be risked also remains to be seen. Montella revealed that the Montenegrin had recovered from the muscle injury that kept him out of the wins over AC Milan and Atalanta, but that he opted not to risk him against Torino.
It is perhaps for more likely that Jovetic will be held back for the visit of Sampdoria on Sunday afternoon, when the Viola will be overwhelming favourites to resume what has rapidly become a winning habit.
Follow Kevin on Twitter: @KevertonFC_84