Home » Fiorentina-Viktoria Plzeň (2-0) – Scattered Considerations

Fiorentina-Viktoria Plzeň (2-0) – Scattered Considerations

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Fiorentina-Viktoria Plzeň (2-0) – Scattered Considerations

The Viola’s journey towards the final in Athens continues: between posts and bad luck, the Czechs only collapse in extra time.

After the draw against Genoa, Vincenzo Italiano half-jokingly spoke about macumbe for the Fiorentina attackers. And the football gods seem to have wanted to openly confirm that he wasn’t entirely wrong: the first half of the match against Viktoria Plzeň is a purple monologue with high rhythms, but also full of strangled high notes. Two poles (Belotti and Koaume, a third will hit Quarta in extra time), two miraculous interventions by goalkeeper Jedlička (again on Belotti and Kouame), an empty goal on Nico Gonzalez. At halftime, the advanced stats of Sofascore they’ll say 1.56 xG for the Viola in the first 45 minutes, with five (sic!) big chances missed (there will be 7 at the final whistle).

If the first leg was the stage for a sterile, slow and too staid Fiorentina against an opponent in full emergency, at the Franchi the Viola proved capable of accelerating and having the resources to undermine the very tight defensive organization of Viktoria, a team who had conceded only one goal in this Conference (in the victory against Astana, in October). But the frustration of a first half that was as dominant as it was poor in fruit weighed on the recovery of the Italian team, where the feeble confidence shown up to that moment, a resource that Fiorentina seemed terribly short of for too long, seemed to be lacking.

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Il Viktoria Pilsen, if possible, has even fewer demands than the first leg. Coach Koubek’s eleven doesn’t seem to have the resources to emerge from the constant siege, either due to Fiorentina’s merits or due to the numerical inferiority that occurred in the 67th minute (bad challenge by Cadu on Dodô, direct red). The shot scoreboard in this sense is all too emblematic: 2 shots off, 0 on target. But the Czechs must be recognized for an exceptional and even growing defensive performance. If in the first half of the match Jedlička will keep his team afloat, in the second half the attention and competitiveness of Viktoria’s low block will at times even seem insurmountable. But it would have been truly titanic to have held out for so long to take it to penalties, with one man down and without ever leaving their own 20 metres.

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Nico Gonzalez, and who if not him. Immediately at the start of extra time, his volley on the second ball collected from the development of a corner is the play that dispels fears, and which in fact opens the way to the semi-final. The Argentine hadn’t scored since February, since that Fiorentina-Frosinone 5-1 which seemed to be the crisis-busting victory for the Viola and which instead will be the first of only two victories in Serie A in 2024. Because anything goes, but Fiorentina he needs the answers of his best men, some of whom have been absent for too long and not very justified. This time he found them, and they are worth another step towards Athens.

This match it was, perhaps, also the sublimation of the three-year period Italian in Florence. A match prepared well especially in terms of approach, of the head, where Fiorentina manages for large stretches to express the football that is ideally in the coach’s mind. Good ball circulation supported by lots of movement between the lines, quick combinations, search for two-touch or even first-touch plays. And then it had been too long since the purples gave the sensation of want win, something that perhaps more than others embodied a Beltran injured by the half hour but remained on the pitch hiding grimaces and sprain pain. But many, too many wrong opportunities. An almost fatal flaw. The team was there, then it got discouraged, it stuttered, then it finally recovered. Biraghi’s final 2-0 is the icing on the cake of a cup front that continues to smile for the Viola. On a side note, the move to switch to three at the back in extra time was correct – albeit almost late -, inserting Quarta to have another central attacker and release the full-backs forward: this last tactical correction will not be useful in the end, but it has a hand of the Argentine defender at 1-0. The clarity and decisive plays, both from the field and from the bench.

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