Fiorentina boss Sinisa Mihajlovic has plenty of work to do to save his job. Taking over from Cesare Prandelli, who departed the Artemio Franchi for the Italy job, was never going to be an easy task. But the Viola kicked off this Week Eight tie against Bari in last place in Serie A having won just once this season. Despite the compressed nature of the division, the vultures are circling.
Although not the best advertisement for Italian football, the Saturday evening match might have hinted at what’s been going wrong in Florence. The Viola were dominant in possession and rarely looked threatened at the back, but for large parts of the game they were unable to create and convert chances and were caught out at the back when the result should have been set in stone.
The first 25 minutes provided little to get excited about, with the home side having the better of possession but both teams unable to find a final ball capable of unlocking the opposing defence. Headers from Alberto Gilardino and Manuel Pasqual were the only real openings until Marco Marchionni’s low shot was blocked by Bari goalkeeper Jean-Francois Gillet after 24 minutes.
The next ten minutes were again rarely punctuated with an end product to the generally attacking play, but when it came the goal was a genuine beauty. Patient approach play from Fiorentina resulted in a neat lay-off from Marchionni and Marco Donadel bent a brilliantly placed 25-yard shot beyond Gillet and in off the far post.
The Belgian stopper was again called into action from distance, but this time he was equal to the 36th minute effort by Riccardo Montolivo, who was increasingly exercising his own influence on the rhythm of the match. Bari pressed, but the teams went in at half time with Mihajlovic’s Fiorentina in front.
Five minutes into the second period Fiorentina’s talented youngster Adem Ljajic found the net with a deft touch only for his strike to be disallowed due to his one-two with a colleague in an offside position.
The second half saw more frayed tempers than meaningful efforts on goal, with yellow cards being dished out with regularity and a particular flashpoint taking place just after the hour mark, which the referee did well to keep under wraps. Pasqual clashed with Andrea Masiello and Nicola Belmonte five minutes later as every perceived slight began to turn ugly. Of a total of seven yellow cards distributed, six were issued in the space of 12 minutes, and all came in the second half.
Fiorentina, though they attacked at times, seldom did so with any urgency. They contained Bari well at the back and the second goal finally came with nine minutes left. Ljajic took full advantage of a lucky break, raced down the left wing and forced a good save from Gillet. His parry fell into the path of Alberto Gilardino, who prodded the ball home to secure the Viola’s second victory of the Serie A season.
Bari hadn’t looked like scoring at all during the game, but got a stoppage time consolation when Alessandro Parisi rose highest to head in a corner. It was an unexpected flourish from the visitors, and preceded an horrific mis-control by Gilardino with the goal gaping and 3-1 very much on the cards.
Fiorentina got their win and three invaluable points. Whether their Serbian boss gets a stay of execution remains to be seen.