Player grades

Pietro Terracciano—5: Can’t really blame him for any of the goals, but you also can’t give a great grade to a goalkeeper who concedes 3.

Cristiano Biraghi—5: Played in a couple of very good passes but was undone by the lack of quality in front of him. Lost out to Matteo Politano a couple of times, but that’s to be expected.

Love the captain getting grouchy.
Photo by Yasser Bakhsh/Getty Images

Lucas Martínez Quarta—5: Lost Giovanni Simeone on the goal and then again on an identical move moments later. In fairness, both passes were great; sometimes, great offense beats great defense, so I’m not too upset.

Nikola Milenković—5.5: Coped pretty well with Khvicha Kvaratshkelia and Simeone. Borked a couple of passes he should not have borked, including the one to Duncan for the final goal. Not all that worried about the late goals.

Michael Kayode—6: Did a heck of a job on Kvaratshkelia again and got forward well. Cranked some throw ins towards the box. He’s fine.

Alfred Duncan—5: Should’ve done better with the pass for Alessio Zerbin’s second (!) goal and had a couple clunky moments, but showed some juice on the ball, particularly turning out of pressure. Deserves better.

Arthur—6: Made a couple errors but was instrumental in Fiorentina maintaining a 61% possession share. Brilliant building up through the first two thirds, which is pretty much his job, and even hit a couple nice passes into the final one.

SSC Napoli v ACF Fiorentina - Italian EA Sports FC Supercup Semifinal

Dancing away from pressure again.
Photo by Yasser Bakhsh/Getty Images

Jonathan Ikoné—4: Won the penalty and looked lively early, but it’s pretty clear that his confidence is completely shot. Setting aside our usual veil of light irony, I’m genuinely worried about him.

Giacomo Bonaventura—6.5: Man of the match, I suppose. Tried stuff, at least, and occasionally forced the Napoli defense to switch off autopilot and think a little bit.

Josip Brekalo—2: If you told me that you’d rather have Fiorentina José Callejón, I probably wouldn’t argue. His athletic limitations are surpassed only by his visible disinterest. I even searched for photos of him, but Getty doesn’t have any from this game. So invisible that he can’t see himself in the mirror.

Lucas Beltrán—5: Battled away and produced a couple decent moments, including a goal that was correctly waved off for offside, but was largely anonymous. Stop me if you’ve heard this before, but he just didn’t get enough service to really do all that much.

M’Bala Nzola—5: Helped pin Napoli deeper but didn’t really offer a threat of any kind.

Riccardo Sottil—5.5: Won a couple free kicks and showcased a bit of dynamism. More importantly, played like he actually had an iota of desire, which makes him monumentally better than Brekalo.

SSC Napoli v ACF Fiorentina - Italian EA Sports FC Supercup Semifinal

If you were worried he’d lose his looks during his injury layoff, Ricky’s got you covered.
Photo by Matteo Ciambelli / DeFodi Images via Getty Images

Fabiano Parisi—5: Lost Zerbin on the second goal but that’s more just random bounces off a corner. Didn’t produce any real impact, which is the bigger problem.

Antonín Barák—n/a: Maybe the idea was for him to do something rad to drive his price up by a couple million euros. Nothing doing in his 5ish minutes.

Davide Faraoni—n/a: Sure.

Three things we learned

1. A band requires more than one musician. Take a look at the front three for each team. I’d argue that Simeone and Beltrán are roughly on the same level, but the gulf between Kvaratshkelia/Politano and Ikoné/Brekalo is too wide for anyone to bridge. The result was that Napoli could pack the middle, secure in the knowledge that the Viola wingers wouldn’t offer any danger. The Viola, on the other hand, had to stretch wide to counter the Partenopei wide men. That’s where the space for Cholito’s opener came from.

I get that Fiorentina is missing Nico González and Christian Kouamé, and that Sottil’s not fit yet. With so many absences in the attack, Fiorentina can’t provide any threat outside the middle of the pitch, and that cascades into problems everywhere else. When those guys return, it’ll help. But the players and the coach need to figure out how to mitigate those shortfalls until they do.

ACF Fiorentina v KRC Genk: Group F - UEFA Europa Conference League 2023/24

Please come back soon.
Photo by Andrea Martini/NurPhoto via Getty Images

2. FIorentina’s great through the first two thirds. I cannot emphasize enough how impressed I’ve been with Fiorentina’s buildup play this year. The defenders are all good on the ball and happy to drive forward into space when their passing options are cut off, but it’s the midfield that deserves special mention. Arthur sets the tempo as well as any midfielder since David Pizarro, and Duncan’s vertical passing is a joy to behold. I’ll back Fiorentina to play through pretty much any press at any time. The problem, as per the previous entry, is the aftermath of that movement into the attacking zone.

3. We really didn’t care. Did any of us give a rat’s ass about this game? I didn’t and I don’t feel alone in that sentiment. Despite the morally questionable money up for grabs and the sweaty attempts by the Saudi media machine, calcio authorities, and Joe Barone to act like this was a real competition, we all knew it didn’t matter. This is the definition of a Mickey Mouse cup.

Winning would’ve been nice, sure, because winning is always nice, and the huge sack of cash would’ve been alright too. But going out here and now is an equally good outcome: Fiorentina gets some extra rest, wriggles out of an ethical quagmire, and advertises to Barone and company just how desperately the need for reinforcements really is. It may not be a win but I have a lot of trouble terming it a loss.

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