The Serie A first round was missing а couple of very important participants that could well be among the title challenges in the 2020/21 season. Atalanta and Inter are yet to play their first games since the start of the new campaign. The Nerazzurri will meet Fiorentina in aim to start off with a full package of points and show off their enhanced squad, hoping to conquer Juventus for the title this year.
There was a lot of uncertainty going on in the club after a very disappointing end to their Europa League venture back in August, losing the final against Sevilla. It all got better after Antonio Conte announced that he will be staying and after making some important moves on the transfer market.
When it comes to Fiorentina, last season they showed a lot of potential, especially in their defensive performance. It seems that improving their actions upfront could be the key for better results now.
They won their first game against Torino, scoring one goal and keeping a clean sheet, which showed their ability to display a balanced performance.
Squad changes and expected formations
Inter had a very subtle activity on the transfer market, really looking to enhance their week spots and provide more depth on certain positions. Their most expected arrival was the full-back Achraf Hakimi, who arrived from Borussia Dormund, and will most probably have to adjust to the wing-back role based on Conte’s favoured 3-5-2.
They also signed the experienced Alexandar Kolarov from Roma, who will definitely add up confidence to Inter’s defensive line, who had their struggles last season. Both will most probably make their debuts in the game against Fiorentina.
The Nerazzurri also looked to improve their midfield line with the arrival of Arturo Vidal from Barcelona. He is more likely to start on the bench, although with the absence of Matías Vecino in the central line, Conte might be fancy to try out new combinations.
Fiorentina have one of their best performers last season, Erick Pulgar absent, which means that Sofyan Amrabat might be making his debut for La Viola. Their rock in defence and captain Germán Pezzella is back in the squad, which is great news for the team since they might experience struggles defending against Inter’s powerful forward line.
Both teams are expected to start in their usual 3-5-2, although they definitely differentiate from each other. Inter are more likely to focus their actions on going forward as much as they can, while Fiorentina are expected to look for balanced defensive performance and taking advantage of their opportunities upfront.
Forcing Fiorentina into individual mistakes
Although Fiorentina have ended last season with an impressive defensive record, they do have some difficulties, especially when playing against creative sides that press intensely.
This result in a variety of different scenarios and expectedly none of them are beneficial for the team.
By losing the ball the players are often forced into individual mistakes and committing fouls in dangerous areas. The team fail in avoiding unmeasured challenges which results in giving away a lot of chances in front of the goal. By failing to keep the possession they are also more prone to being caught on a counter, which could be exploited very smartly by Inter. Fiorentina’s three-man defence combined with Inter’s players’ movement could turn out problematic.
The team find it hard to defend against skilful players, which is another weakness that the Nerazzurri could expose. Using Romelu Lukaku’s physicality and control could be the key for breaking through La Viola’s defence.
With Lukaku’s smart positioning and Lautaro Martínez’s support, Inter could pin Fiorentina back and force them into individual errors in the box, and giving away penalties. They could use their movement and strong partnership to create chances in the final third, and with the help of Hakimi, who usually joins the attacking ventures, they could expose Fiorentina easily. La Viola struggled with defending in the box last season and gave away a high number of penalties.
Fiorentina need to improve their final third actions
While Fiorentina weren’t the most impressive team in attack last season, they do have some potentially good tendencies. The team tend to create a lot of opportunities in front of the goal but the lack of accuracy wastes their chances most of the time.
They do attempt a lot of crosses but many of them don’t reach their destination, which throws all team efforts in the bin. If they could provide the ball to Federico Chiesa and Gaetano Castrovilli more often, they might increase their chances to score. They are both good at dribbling and have strong positioning, which allows the team to place better in the opposition half.
Fiorentina do lack a natural forward which affects their attacking record. The lack of a strong individual with solid shooting abilities in the central areas makes it harder for the team to take advantage of their opportunities. They had 15 shots against Torino, yet only five of them were on target.
La Viola should focus on quality over quantity, otherwise, they run the risk of getting tired early on, without any positive outcome.
Are set-pieces the way to go?
Although they are very solid defensively, Inter should not underestimate Fiorentina’s excellence in attacking set-pieces and also their cross frequency. They should keep their marking strategy tight, otherwise, there’s a risk of being stretched out and opening gaps that La Viola could easily exploit. While in the absence of their main set-piece taker Pulgar it is less likely for them to score, they still have some players that could step up.
Having Kolarov in defence might not bring a huge boost to Inter’s performance, but his ability to take set-pieces could come in handy in attack. The Nerazzurri could also expose the opposition by taking advantage of their attacking set-pieces. They have a lot of options when it comes to different situations and adding Kolarov brings them even better support.
The counter-attacking threat
It could all come down to who’s going to outplay the other on a counter. With both teams employing three-man defensive lines, it will come to no surprise if some chances are created from counter-attacks. Fiorentina are a team that rely on counter-attacking a lot, by combining long balls with a smart movement. It is most probably that the easiest way to penetrate would be by taking advantage of these opportunities, and trying to counter as much as they can. Inter’s defence are well organised as long as they have time and space. Being forced back quickly could affect their efficiency and could leave some open spaces out.
Inter are also usually active on a counter. Lukaku and Martínez often tend to combine well and deliver the ball to the final third in the best possible way.
Inter are expected to cause a lot of trouble to Fiorentina and are the clear favourite in this game. They should not underestimate their own weaknesses though, since La Viola will definitely try to take advantage of them. It is very likely that both teams will be trying to create chances on a counter, which means that Fiorentina should increase their defensive awareness and not dive into unmeasured actions, otherwise they risk committing fouls in dangerous areas.