Trips to the Artemio Franchi are never easy. Whether it be 5-4 goalfests or late Dusan Vlahovic strikes, Inter has rarely taken home three points from Tuscany in recent times. That changed last year, however, with the Nerazzurri sweeping Fiorentina in both away fixtures. Romelu Lukaku scored an 119th minute winner in the Coppa Italia tie before a Nicolo Barella gamewinner sealed the deal in league action three weeks later. But the winds of change have blown in Florence the same way they have in Milan and the team in purple is on its way to retaking its spot as one of the Seven Sisters.
Fiorentina appears to have firmly moved on from its seemingly annual appointment of Beppe Iachini to rescue the season and at last has a project worth watching. La Viola’s summer managerial search had plenty of twists and turns (see Gennaro Gattuso’s twenty day appointment) but they finally found their man in the shape of Vincenzo Italiano. He guided Spezia to a shock promotion from Serie B and an even more surprising survival in its first season at the top flight. The newcomers played a positive brand of football and the 43-year-old was tipped as one of the brightest new minds in the Serie A managerial scene. Fiorentina gave Italiano the reigns (and much more stability than Spezia would have offered).
So far, so good. La Viola are no longer rooted to Iachini’s focus on defense and defense alone, which led to the unfortunate shoehorning of creative players into roles that diminished their attacking talents. Instead, Italiano adheres to a 4-3-3 which revolves around high press and possession-based football. It’s still early but the results are there for all to see. Through four games, Fiorentina has scored the fifth most goals, has the fourth-highest average possession (56.5%), the second most passes, and the fifth most pressures on the peninsula. The only drawback so far has been a wobbly defense which has conceded the 4th-most expected goals against. That hasn’t stopped Fiorentina from roaring to three straight victories after an opening day defeat to Roma. Atalanta, Torino, and Genoa have all succumbed to Italiano’s side which currently stands 5th on nine points.
Fiorentina was fairly active in the transfer market, as it refits the squad to Italiano’s liking. La Viola’s club record transfer fee was broken this summer in return for VFB Stuttgart’s left-winger Nicolos Gonzalez who’s already shown his quality and skill with a superb goal against Torino. Lucas Torreira was brought in on a loan w/option from Arsenal, Riccardo Saponara and Alfred Duncan returned from respective Spezia and Cagliari loan spells, right back Alvaro Odriozola arrived temporarily from Real Madrid, and ex-Schalke center-back Matija Nastastic on a permanent move. The big news of the summer, however, was who stayed. Despite interest from Tottenham and Atletico Madrid, Dusan Vlahovic will don the purple jersey for at least one more season. The Serbian already has three goals to his name and is the main, but far from only danger on Fiorentina. Inter is yet to take on a presence like his and if the Nerazzurri aren’t careful, they could have a serious headache come Tuesday night.
The main area this game will be won or lost is in midfield. Fiorentina will be Inter’s first opponents that look to keep ahold of the ball and aren’t afraid to attack. La Viola’s high press could cause Inter’s midfielders problems, especially as the Nerazzurri never look comfortable under heavy pressure in the center of the park. But if Inter can break through the lines, chances will follow close behind against a rather porous Fiorentina.
Inter holds a substantial edge in the all-time record between these clubs, with 29 wins, 20 draws, and 13 losses from 62 games. The Nerazzurri last lost to the Viola in 2017 and swept the series last season, although it’s won just twice (both came earlier this year) at the Artemio Franchi in its last eight attempts.
- 4-3 (H), 26/9/20
- 1-2 (A), 13/1/21
- 0-2 (A), 5/2/21
Predicted Starting XIs
Inter will be without Joaquin Correa (hip bruise) and Arturo Vidal (thigh strain) thanks to injuries picked up in the Bologna match. Hakan Calhanoglu, Ivan Perisic, and Matteo Darmian will be fully rested after taking the night off Saturday. Inzaghi, however, has some selection questions, especially at wingback following stellar performances from Dimarco and Dumfries. It’s also possible he opts for overall squad rotation with a clash against Atalanta on Saturday before a Champions League fixture in a week’s time.
As for Fiorentina, Gaetano Castrovilli and Nico Gonzalez are both questionable with knocks endured over the weekend. Even so, Vicenzo Italiano has some options to choose from, including on-loan Arsenal midfielder Lucas Torreira, Alfred Duncan, and the two Riccardo’s, Saponara and Sottil.
Prediction: Fiorentina 2-2 Inter Milan
Goals will come thick and fast at the Franchi. Lautaro and Calhanoglu will get on the scoresheet for Inter but strikes from Vlahovic and Sottil will end things level after an entertaining ninety minutes.