Everything seemed to be going so swimmingly on Thursday evening. Federico Bernardeschi had given Fiorentina an early lead prior to Facundo Roncaglia's dismissal. The Italian netted again, and the Italians were heading to top spot in the Group. Cue the exact opposite of Sunday's events against Empoli, with Basel fighting back against their former Coach to gain a valuable point.
2-2's have epitomised Fiorentina recently following a love affair with the 2-0 scoreline, and it comes at possibly the worst time. Having built up a good amount of speed and morale from wins over Verona, Frosinone, Lech Poznan and Sampdoria, of which three were away from home, Fiorentina needed to make the most out of their winning run.
Along came Empoli in the derby, and quick-fire goals from Marko Livaja and Marcel Buchel had all but demolished the hopes of Florence. Nikola Kalinic managed to salvage a point, and the fight-back should have been used to push on. Following Thursday's draw, this is quite frankly not the case.
But what Sousa has is some tasty looking fixtures prior to the winter break. Of course people look to teams such as high flyers Sassuolo and the rejuvenated Juventus as potential threats, and they will be, but matches against Udinese, Belenenses and Chievo are huge.
What Sousa must do is not fall into the trap of changing a mass of things from the past two matches, which is what he ended up doing. The line-up in Basel featured seven players who didn’t start against Empoli. With a gap of over four days to get together and prepare for this European affair, what Sousa should have done was tinker slightly.
Now, with just three days to recover, he leaves a number of players on the ropes in a crucial game with Sassuolo.
Borja Valero, the centrepiece of Sousa's football, has played all 180 minutes. There was little sense in keeping him on for both matches and resting bit-part players like Mario Suarez. The choice to keep out both Kalinic and Josip Ilicic was daring and proved costly versus Empoli, yet the former played out all 90 minutes on Thursday. The latter, a key figure in Fiorentina's attack, had to make way after just 33 minutes and is a doubt for Monday.
Fiorentina's one saving grace is that Domenico Berardi is suspended for their clash, and should ease the pain of defending for Gonzalo Rodriguez and Davide Astori. If Fiorentina do get a point from the game, it is a big one, and whatever team Sousa puts out he must largely stick with. The chopping and changing feels Vincenzo Montella-esque.
It proved Montella's downfall, with players getting injured and the wrong individuals starting in the wrong game. Fighting off Sassuolo on Monday would leave a very nice set of fixtures aside from the Juventus clash, and with those matches could come European knockout football and a Champions League spot going into the festive period. All eyes are firmly fixed on Monday, and you can see why.