Written by Joshua O'Byrne (@JobJobBinks):
After their big victory against Juventus, Fiorentina still find themselves in a disappointing eight place with only 30 points. Although they have one game in hand against Pescara, which they should pick up three points in, they are at serious risk of missing out on Europe. Sousa has been under pressure this season and he can't seem to escape the rumors that he will be sacked. Unless Sousa can start to turn things around in the second half of the season then it's very like he will be sacked before the end of the year. La Viola desperately need to start improving if they are to qualify for Europe this year.
Last season Fiorentina finished in fifth place and qualified for the Europa League which was a good first season to build on for Paolo Sousa. However instead of improving and building on that fifth place finish, La Viola seem to have gone backwards under the Portuguese tactician. One of Fiorentina's problems this year has been there inability to convert chances into goals. La Viola have only scored 30 goals this year so far which along with Milan is the second lowest of all the teams in the top half of the table with only Chievo having scored less. Fiorentina's lack of killer instinct in some matches has been the difference between picking up all three points or just one. Sousa's men have drawn the most matches in Serie A this year along with Pescara finding themselves with six stalemates. Many of these draws were matches Fiorentina dominated but failed to put the opposition away and they'll have start killing teams off if they want to qualify for Europe.
The defense has also been a problem for Sousa this season with Fiorentina being anything but solid at times. Fiorentina have conceded 29 goals this season and Torino are the only team in the top half of the table that have conceded more than La Viola. Sousa has failed to address Fiorentina's defensive issues and in aforementioned matches where they lack the killer instinct they end up getting picked off at the back. La Viola will have to improve the defense if they are to qualify for Europe but their match against Juventus showed us that perhaps Sousa worked on the defense over the winter break. The win over their fierce rivals was very important both for confidence and in their hopes of European qualification.
Despite all of these problems that Fiorentina are having this year there is reason to believe that they can still finish in the European places. La Viola still possess quality players such as Gonzalo Rodriguez, Milan Badelj, Borja Valero, Nikola Kalinic and Fernando Bernardeschi. While it looks certain Badelj will leave in the summer, Sousa will be desperate not to lose him in January and Fiorentina will look to keep all of those key players. A mega money offer for Kalinic from China would’ve been foolish to turn down but the Croatian has announced he will stay in Florence. One player that La Viola cannot afford to lose in January at all costs is Bernardeschi. The young Italian has been in inspired form this season with nine goals already and he has been the shining light of their season so far.
While La Viola have had a below par season so far they have enough quality in their team to mount a comeback in the second half of the season and finish in the European places. However, Fiorentina will need to continue improving quickly or La Viola's fans will have to mark this season down as one to forget...