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Saturday August 19 2017
A San Siro soap opera

Stefano Pioli returns to face Inter as the new Fiorentina Coach in a must-watch game full of storylines and drama, writes Vilizar Yakimov.

Karma is a strange thing, isn’t it? Not so long ago Fiorentina comfortably outplayed and defeated the Serie A champions Juventus, as La Viola boosted one of the most talented squads in the league. Fast forward a couple of months and the Tuscan outfit finds itself dismantled, losing some of its most valuable assets. It’s hardly a new scenario for the passionate fanbase of the club, as big players’ departures seem to be part of their history.

This summer, however, it seems that karma keeps firing shot after shot at Fiorentina, as Federico Bernardeschi left for arch rivals Juventus in what painfully looks like a remake of the Roberto Baggio soap opera. Poor management and the annoying refusal of the Della Valle brothers to invest in an ambitious project also lead to the departures of loyal servants like Josip Ilicic, Ciprian Tatarusanu, club captain Gonzalo Rodriguez, as well as Matias Vecino and Borja Valero, who both joined Inter. In the meantime, Fiorentina appointed ex-Nerazzurri Coach Stefano Pioli, hoping that the experienced tactician could provide some stability.

Like all those dramatic changes weren’t enough for La Viola’s faithful, the Serie A calendar scheduled a clash between Fiorentina and Inter at San Siro in the very first round of the season. With so many storylines and so much to process for both sides early on, the game promises to be a real blockbuster on Sunday night.

One of the main characters of the show will undoubtedly be the visiting Coach Pioli. The 51-year-old has the chance to prove a point to Inter after his sacking due to the terrible underachievement of the Nerazzurri last term. Pioli was probably the last man to blame for La Beneamata’s shortcomings, as he inherited a team which didn’t have a proper pre-season and was hammered by the outrageous Frank de Boer experiment.

Another intriguing storyline is about Borja Valero and Vecino facing their former club so soon after their controversial moves. Especially the Spaniard was considered to be a real ‘bandiera’ of the Fiorentina side, as he pledged his love and loyalty to the team and the fans on multiple occasions. The elegant midfielder, who famously tattooed the co-ordinates for Florence’s Ponte Vecchio bridge on his arm, was inexplicably forced out of the club, which was probably the biggest of many outrageous decisions by the management.

As if seeing Pioli’s tactical approach and Viola fan reactions when they first see their former heroes in another shirt isn’t enough to watch the game, let’s not forget that this is still a clash between two of Serie A’s top sides. Not only that, but the last 10 meetings between Inter and Fiorentina averaged 4.1 goals per game and included six red cards, so a show between these two seems to be guaranteed.

Considering that Inter have finally found some stability and signed two of La Viola’s best players during the summer, few would bet against the hosts on Sunday. However, Fiorentina have won six of the last 10 meetings between these sides and, despite all departures, also managed to add some exciting young talent to their team.

It might be a little soon for Marco Benassi, Valentin Eysseric and Gil Dias to really gel with their teammates, but these are the dangers when buying so late in to the transfer window. Just as the new players seem to be settling in, Nikola Kalinic brings another summer-long soap opera to an end by also heading towards San Siro, albeit this time the red and black half.

With Coach, players and passionate fans all united and eager to prove a point against Inter, Fiorentina and Pioli must try to get rid of the misfortunes following them and maybe karma will be on their side this time. 

Keep up to date with the latest news and action from Spain's Primera Division with Football Espana - from the team behind Football Italia.

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