Fiorentina had picked up 9 points from four matches coming into the Derby dell'Appennino against Bologna on Wednesday night. La Viola were coming off a 1-0 victory against Carpi while the Rossoblu picked up their first win of the season against Frosinone on Sunday. Despite it being a midweek game, 25,085 spectators came to the Stadio Artemio Franchi for the match including a solid contingent of travelling Bologna fans.
The game had a very slow start for the first 15-20 minutes, understandable considering both sides only had 3 days rest. That slow start was seen across of all Serie A last night as there were 0 goals in the first 30 minutes of the 8 games being played. Like most provincial sides, Bologna was content to just stay compact and keep 8-9 men behind the ball. The first piece of action came in the 22nd minute when Marcos Alonso hit a free kick from about 20 yards out just over the bar. La Viola was dominating possession but weren’t playing quick enough in the final third to create any chances. In the 41st minute, Bologna played a quick free kick over the top to Mattia Destro who brought the ball down inside the box and fired a left footed shot but Ciprian Tatarusanu did well to make himself big and make the save. Destro makes very good runs off the ball and does well to hold up play and I’m quite surprised there wasn’t more competition among Serie A teams to sign him this summer. So, heading into halftime each side had one good opportunity but the first half was quite dull.
La Viola started the second half on the front foot with a chance off a cross from Jakub Blaszczykowski that Ante Rebic headed wide. The home side was playing sharper and showed more purpose going forward. Paulo Sousa deserves credit for bringing on Nikola Kalinic for Khouma Babacar in the 56thminute. Too often coaches wait until the 65th-70th minute to make a change and then the substitute struggles to make any significant impact on the game. Babacar was ineffective but Kalinic came in and seemed to change Fiorentina’s dynamic. La Viola looked much more dangerous in attack in the second half as they got the ball out wide and whipped in crosses. Bologna remained resolute at the back as they looked to hang onto the point but Fiorentina eventually found the breakthrough. In the 71st minute, Rebic put in a cross from the left side, which Matias Vecino flicked on to the back post as Blaszczykowski was there to pounce and smash the ball into the back of the net to score his first goal with Fiorentina. Once La Viola found that goal the match was pretty much sealed, as Bologna wouldn’t ever pose any real threat. La Viola proceeded to keep the ball with the occasional opportunity. Paulo Sousa’s side put the game to bed with a second goal in the 83rd minute. Marcos Alonso took the ball down the left flank and whipped in a low cross, which Kalinic slid on to and tapped into the net. It was a classic center forward goal as Kalinic timed his run in the box to perfection and was in the right spot to finish off the cross. La Viola hung on to keep the clean sheet and pick up a quality 2-0 win. Fiorentina did very well to adjust their game plan in the second half and it was effective as they scored both their goals off of crosses. Paulo Sousa made very good in game adjustments to guide Fiorentina to victory.
Fiorentina now sit in second place with 12 points ahead of their clash with league leaders Inter on Sunday. There is a real sense of optimism in the city of Florence at the moment regarding Fiorentina. Despite their Europa League defeat to Basel, Fiorentina are flying high in Serie A at the moment. If La Viola can travel to Milan and get a result against an Inter team that has 5 wins in 5 games it will raise the confidence of this team even more.
While he has made 3 appearances this season so far, Giuseppe Rossi has not yet returned to 100% game fitness following his long-term injury. Paulo Sousa spoke about him at the pre-match conference on Tuesday night: “[Giuseppe] Rossi can always play, although we must understand that he’s in the process of rehabilitation. We’re waiting for him because he is a phenomenon, being aware that he must be handled the right way to get him to his level.”
Fiorentina coach Paulo Sousa: “We can fight it out with anyone but we also have to be realistic. There are many new players at Fiorentina, plus a new coach, so we have a long way to go. I believe in our capabilities, but am also a realistic person. I always said we could compete with everyone and we will compete. No two games are ever the same. We have had some important performances so far this season and improved as the night went on against Bologna. There are clubs out there who invested a great deal to win the Scudetto, but at the same time I never said we should just give up. We still have to improve, but don’t want to set limits on ourselves either.”
Milan Badelj: “We scored two goals in the second half but we also did well in the first half. How do I recover balls? You need to play with your head. Last year we won against Inter but they are a good team. Yes, I will talk to [Ivan] Perisic before the match!”