With Roma in a rich vein of form, the Viola needed a win against the basement boys in order to at least try to stay within touching distance of the Giallorossi. It has been a rather frustrating past few weeks for the Tuscan club, who were dumped out of the Europa League by Tottenham, saw their lead against Napoli cancelled out by Gonzalo Higuain, and were humiliated 4-1 by Roma. And now, with the failure to again hang on to a lead, they now have Inter for company in a battle for fourth place.
Although new signing Mauro Zarate gave the hosts a 1-0 advantage, Verona, who are desperate to eke out every single point in a quest to survive the drop, Fiorentina again were unable to grab another and were punished in the last few minutes of the match as the visitors grabbed the equalizer through Eros Pisano. And given their bad situation, once they got that goal they needed, the Gialloblu packed it in in order to make sure they departed the Stadio Artemio Franchi with a point.
Whilst Verona fans will be excited about the draw, Viola supporters will not. Without sounding disrespectful to Verona, a 1-1 stalemate against Napoli is perfectly acceptable for Fiorentina. However, recording the same scoreline against a team that took until February 3rd to win their first game is not good enough, and the team, coach, and followers all know it. Oddly enough, Sousa decided to leave quite a few players out of the starting XI, with Nikola Kalinic, Josip Ilicic, and Federico Bernardeschi among those who had to settle for a spot on the bench. Given that they are out of the Europa League and the Coppa Italia, the Portuguese tactician’s decision not to field his strongest line-up is mind-boggling, to say the least.
Was it a sign of overconfidence? Probably, and perhaps the ex-Basel coach wanted to give some of his star players a bit of a rest. After all, that is why teams have more than 11 players and squad rotation is necessary to keep everyone healthy; in addition, the season is not a sprint, but rather a marathon. Nonetheless, this result will have felt like two points dropped rather than one won, and Fiorentina obviously will have to get back on track if they want to pick up their first victory this month.
Next up will be a road trip to take on another relegation candidate, this time Serie A debutants Frosinone. This is a must-win game for Fiorentina if they want to redeem themselves after a disappointing past few weeks. With Inter and Roma clashing in what will be an entertaining encounter, dropping any points against the Canarini could ultimately see them out of the running for a Champions League berth. A win, coupled with a loss for Roma, would close the gap between the two to just two points. Yet, at the same time, Inter would be hot on their tails and still tied on points, meaning that they will not be able to afford any slip-ups between now and the end of the season.
It indeed has been a frustrating past few weeks for Fiorentina, but there are fortunately more games to play between now and May. Will they be able to pip Roma to third place? It is certainly not impossible, but time is running out if they want to make a serious push for a Champions League spot.