Beppe Iachini won’t lose any sleep over Fiorentina’s opening-day win over Torino on Saturday.
Gaetano Castrovilli, wearing the famous Viola No.10 shirt for the first time, tapped in the first goal of the Serie A season to ensure his side began the new campaign by earning three points at home.
Victory, a clean sheet and a dominant performance are encouraging signs for Iachini as he begins his first full season at the helm in Florence.
But there will likely be a familiar doubt swimming around the back of his mind soon enough; his side remain timid and wasteful in front of goal.
Until Castrovilli’s breakthrough, Fiorentina looked set to play out a familiar story. There was much endeavour and little reward.
Toro goalkeeper Salvatore Sirigu made a couple of terrific saves, but Christian Kouame spurned several good chances and the likes of Franck Ribery, Giacomo Bonaventura and Federico Chiesa did little to threaten the Italy international’s goal.
Iachini has plenty of craft in his midfield, and Chiesa’s surging run and pinpoint cross was ultimately the key to unlocking a robust Toro backline.
With time, this midfield creativity should improve further. Sofyan Amrabat will soon make his debut after missing the opening day through suspension, while the likes of Bonaventura and returning hero Borja Valero will soon assimilate with their new team-mates.
But Fiorentina’s lack of a reliable goalscorer stuck out like a sore thumb on Saturday, as it did throughout last season.
In 2019/20, Fiorentina scored 51 goals in Serie A, the 13th-highest in the division and less than relegated Lecce.
Ribery, for all his class, is not a natural striker, while Kouame has never been prolific.
Chiesa topped the club scoring charts with 10 goals but below him, the squad’s strikers struggled to pull their weight.
Dusan Vlahovic scored six goals, Patrick Cutrone four and Christian Kouame one.
Now, with rumours of Chiesa’s potential departure not going away, the question of who is going to take on La Viola’s goalscoring burden this season remains unanswered.
They have several players who can put the bullets in the chamber, but few who know how to pull the trigger.
Chiesa has now been involved in eight of his side’s last 15 league goals, with four strikes and four assists, and his departure could leave a damaging impact on the team’s output – despite Iachini’s insistence on playing him out of position in a wing-back role.
There is plenty for Viola fans to be happy about with their transfer business so far, but an opening day win that saw them require 15 shots – and five on target – to score one goal only highlights anew their need to bring in a reliable goalscorer before the end of the mercato.
If the Italy international does depart, there is little doubt where the transfer fee should be reinvested.
Torino on an identity hunt
Marco Giampaolo hasn’t had an easy start to life at Torino and has a big job on his hands to transform his team into a more fluid outfit.
He had little time over the summer to implement his ideas, and preparations were further complicated by two players testing positive for COVID-19 during pre-season.
Before Saturday’s game kicked off, the former Milan boss admitted he was as intrigued as anyone to see what would unfold.
“Let’s go and see who we are,” he said.
“I can’t predict what this Toro will be because we haven’t had proper preparation – about 30 training sessions, but never with a full squad.”
He added that he would be “very happy to win ugly” to begin with, and Andrea Belotti’s stylish injury-time volley almost earned his side what would’ve been a barely-deserved point in the dying minutes, before it was ruled out for offside.
Giampaolo’s Torino are clearly a work in progress. The formation has changed to the 4-3-1-2 system favoured by their new coach, something completely new for the Granata after years of working with a back three under Moreno Longo and Walter Mazzarri.
In the first half, some periods of possession contained neat flashes and Alex Berenguer’s first-half volley, by far their best chance of the game, was the result of some crafty midfield play.
This didn’t last, as they came under pressure for most of the second half, but the more time they have to gel, the better things will get.
At least, that’s the theory – and it’s a theory that relies on a degree of trial and error that could result in some bad results and intense criticism in the early weeks and months of the season.
Giampaolo will require patience in his rebuild – something he wasn’t afforded at San Siro.