After years of disappointment, Fiorentina might have something to look forward to during the 2021/22 Serie A season with Vincenzo Italiano as coach.
The German-born tactician encouraged Spezia to play some exciting football in their inaugural campaign in Serie A and achieved survival at the end of the last season.
With the 43-year-old in charge, Fiorentina have bounced back from their opening round defeat to Roma and won their last three league matches including their 2-1 victory against Genoa on Saturday afternoon. On a waterlogged pitch, the Gigliati did not deviate from Italiano’s passing game. They persisted with playing the ball out from the back, played with a high defensive line, and were content to pass the ball around in small, compact triangles.
In addition to the heavy pitch, Genoa were content to sit back and defend, then launch counter-attacks whenever the opportunity arose. Fiorentina’s wingers Jose Callejon and Nicolas Gonzalez rarely drifted inside, which left Viola centre-forward Dusan Vlahovic isolated.
Italiano did not force the Gigliati to change their approach but his substitution of Gonzalez for Riccardo Saponara turned the game around. The former Sampdoria and Genoa attacking midfielder had a loan spell under Italiano at Spezia last season so the coach knew what he could do.
It was Saponara who opened the scoring in the 60th minute with an excellent strike after cutting in from the left flank. Giacomo Bonaventura supplied him with the pass and the former Atalanta and AC Milan midfielder had the favour returned when Saponara supplied a lovely assist for the second Viola goal.
Based on the conditions of the pitch, this was perhaps not the right match for Gonzalez to use his pace to best effect, and the mercurial talents of Saponara were needed to turn the game around.
Fiorentina might have been able to seal the match earlier if Gaetano Castrovilli had not suffered an injury in the first half but Italiano demonstrated that he can bring on the right players at the right time and they can perform a role for him.
A more comprehensive score could have been on the cards if it was not for the saves of Genoa goalkeeper Salvatore Sirigu but the two goals were sufficient and a Domenico Criscito penalty came too late to have any significant impact on the result.
With 65 percent possession, 16 shots to nine, completing 515 passes compared to Genoa’s 254, and a passing success rate of 88 percent compared to Genoa’s 79pc, Fiorentina dominated the match in many aspects and deserved the three points.
During the Rocco Commisso era, Fiorentina have had Vincenzo Montella, Giuseppe Iachini, and Cesare Prandelli as coaches, and they struggled to obtain results consistently and give the team an identity.
The Gigliati’s Italian-American patron might have something to smile about with Italiano, who has given the team a philosophy to follow and the early results have been promising.