Fiorentina v Lazio

Fiorentina v Lazio: Match preview, scouting, and predictions


Considering the strong run of forms of the team above or near them, this fixture might end up being an eliminator match as far as the Champions League race is concerned.

  Serie A Week 26– Monday 25 February  2024 – Stadio Artemio Franchi | Preview by Enrico Passarella


Fiorentina are probably where they deserve to be in the standings, but things look pretty bleak since they have won just once in their last seven Serie A matches. It wouldn’t be all doom and gloom if their going was more linear instead of having a blistering start followed up by an extended blah stretch, for which they have yet to find the right remedy.

But nothing is lost, and they were a little too optimistic if they thought they could really compete for a top-four finish. Atalanta and Bologna are marching, Roma righted the ship, and Lazio and Napoli will make a serious run for it at some point. Even with the fifth position potentially qualifying for the Champions League too, there are too many teams with more quality vying for it. If they all got going, which is a stretch, and the Rossoblù don’t relent, they might fall to the outskirts of the European picture altogether.

They haven’t openly declared it, and ideally, they’d achieve both, but some of their moves and statements hint that they prioritize winning a trophy to Serie A. They’d arguably deserve it after losing two finals. Making it to the Coppa Italia semifinal was no small feat considering the upsets elsewhere. The clash with La Dea, which has similar ambitions but more weapons, will be an all-out war.

It’s not that hard to figure out why their performances have declined. Their top players haven’t been in great form in a while. Nicolas Gonzalez missed time with an injury and has yet to recapture his best shape. Arthur has been playing through a nagging injury and has been managed very carefully. His display and playing time have been affected by that. They are a different and much less effective team when he’s not there or pulling the strings. In hindsight, the error was to lean too much on such an injury-prone player, but, to their credit, they added a backup with similar traits, but apparently Maxime Lopez fares well only when he perceives the full trust of his coach and logs full minutes. Giacomo Bonaventura has also been quite underwhelming after a marvelous start, and he has been nursing something too, or he wouldn’t have been benched so often given his importance.

Andrea Belotti was a nice January addition for cheap, as keep using M’Bala Nzola regularly was no longer an option after so many mistakes and lackluster performances, and he aligns and fits well with the rest of the team. It’s a nice opportunity for him too, as the race to make the Italy squad in his role is still wide open. He adds an element of grit and intensity that they didn’t have in their frontline. They’ll be hoping his scoring touch that disappeared in Rome returns.

Moreover, an extra striker allows them to field Lucas Beltran as a no.10, where they don’t have good alternatives to Bonaventura since they have completely lost faith in Antonin Barak. The Argentine has an interesting skillset and is no slouch in the box, but he’s better off as a second-striker next to a bruiser, as he’s quite slippery and not a real reference point due to his lack of physicality. The current role isn’t that far off.

They tried hard to get Albert Gudmundsson in January, who would have been perfect since he would have been able to play everywhere behind the striker. They’ll probably make further attempts at the end of the season, but the race will be fierce. If they really had that kind of budget, they should have used it on another winger. Jonathan Ikoné has shown some signs of life as of late, but he’s not the most menacing attacker even when in form. They still look very lopsided, considering all the attention and touches drawn by Gonzalez, and flat-out toothless when the Argentine isn’t on the pitch. It’s tough to find players of similar caliber without splurging, but another option would have been better than nothing, even if not perfect or with major potential.

They’ll try to keep a foot in two shoes a while longer, but the next cup fixtures are just around the corner. A couple more losses will probably lead to a hard pivot.

Expected XI (4-2-3-1): Terracciano; Kayode, Milenkovic, Ranieri, Biraghi; Arthur, Duncan; Ikoné, Bonaventura, Gonzalez; Belotti. 

Doubts: Kayode/Faraoni, Biraghi/Parisi, Bonaventura/Beltran. 

Injury Report: Biraghi (ankle injury) – Probable.
Martinez Quarta (abdomen) – Questionable.
Castrovilli, Dodo (ACL tears), Christensen (meniscus tear), Kouamé (malaria) – OUT. 




Lazio haven’t completely turned the corner but have improved relative to a hellish first half of the season. They have at least gotten to the point where they win the matches they are supposed to even if their showings aren’t superb. Their schedule isn’t super hard, but that can only take you too far, especially if they aren’t commanding. They’ll need to get some signature victories to go places.

The pace sustained by Bologna and Atalanta is a problem for all the other Champions League contenders, but there’s a solid chance one of the two, or maybe both will abate. They’ll have to be ready to pounce if and when that happens. They belong to the lot of sides for which it would be a disastrous outcome if Serie A obtained five spots, which is increasingly likely, and they still didn’t make it.

They have it in them, as the great display versus Bayern Munich proves, but they have rarely been able to string together three or four complete performances in a row. The injuries to key pieces or valuable backups haven’t helped them during a challenging stretch of the schedule. The uncertain timetables represent one further issue, but it appears that nobody is out long-term. Still, they are one major absence from their XI crumbling. The fatigue check might come due soon as they have been forced to ride the same men for a while because of the situation.

Their much-maligned summer window eventually bore fruits, but the criticism stemmed more from the moves they didn’t make than from whom they actually signed. Matteo Guendouzi is no Sergej Milinkovic-Savic offensively but is a sound all-around midfielder who always brings the energy in a team that is lacking in that respect at times. It turned out that it was just a matter of time and opportunities for Gustav Tang Isaksen, who’s super pacey but also a decent finisher and has become a big weapon. Without him, they would have been in big trouble since Matteo Zaccagni has missed a lot of time. The Italian winger isn’t having his best season number-wise, but he’s always a thorn in the opponents’ side and one of their fulcrums. The Dane has a different and more straightforward style but is a menace too. Their frontline would have been bland if they had to lean on Felipe Anderson and Pedro all the time. They are fine complementary players and occasionally brilliant but have lost a step at this stage of their careers.

The emergency has been serendipitous in other cases too. Mario Gila has also taken full advantage of their issues in the back, as Patric has often been banged up, and Nicolò Casale has fallen off a cliff for some reason. He’s not the biggest defender but is super agile, gritty, and rarely has blunders. He’s a great partner for Alessio Romagnoli, who’s more finesse. He’s a sneaky big loss since he’s suspended, especially if Patric can’t go either.

Taty Castellanos has had his moments but hasn’t done enough to seriously challenge Ciro Immobile. Their best version is still the one with the veteran leading the line and putting constant pressure on the rearguard by toeing the offside trap. The days when he could compete for the capocannoniere monicker are gone, but he has stayed relatively healthy in the past two months. He remains an impeccable finisher and has a connection with their assist-men, especially Luis Alberto, that his teammate will need years to establish. The Argentine has the ideal traits of a super-sub, and that’s still an asset.

They didn’t do anything drastic to get back on track. In order to improve, they need their cornerstones to get healthy and play to their potential for a few matches in a row. That has rarely happened this season. Ivan Provedel, Romagnoli, Felipe Anderson, Immobile, and Zaccagni have all had ailments or subpar stretches at some point. They have never really fired at all cylinders. That’s where a couple of January additions, even though they would have been a surplus when they are whole, would have aid.

They are among the myriad of teams whose coach has a contract that expires in 2025, so they’ll most likely decide one way or the other in the summer. Maurizio Sarri was a coup when they hired them but lost some luster over the years. If he’s willing to keep going and the skirmishes behind the scenes are nothing more than that, they shouldn’t mess about, as, considering the fierce competition for the touted up-and-comers, they are unlikely to do better. Claudio Lotito generally has more patience and a better big-picture approach than other presidents, but the results the rest of the way will inevitably play a big role in the decision.

Expected XI (4-3-3): Provedel; Lazzari, Casale, Romagnoli, Marusic; Guendouzi, Cataldi, Alberto; Isaksen, Immobile, Felipe Anderson.  

Doubts: Lazzari/Pellegrini, Casale/Patric, Immobile/Castellanos. 

Injury Report: Zaccagni (foot edema) – Probable.
Vecino (groin injury), Hysaj (thigh injury) – Questionable.
Patric (groin injury) – Doubtful.
Rovella (sports hernia) – Out. 

Suspension: Gila.



Lazio – Over 2.5 Goals

Enrico Passarella

Contributor for @footitalia1 | Serie A | News, Transfers, Betting |