It wasn't an easy win for Fiorentina, but it was a deserved one, earned through the hard work of Juan Cuadrado and goals from Giuseppe Rossi and David Pizarro. And while the elefanti may not have picked up any points, Catania proved that despite some key players leaving, they are still an organized side that looks to play football no matter who the opponent is.
Catania lost Alejandro Gómez and Francesco Lodi during the summer, but picked up right where they left off, with Panagiotis Tachtsidis replacing Lodi in midfield and Sebastián Leto slotting in up front in Rolando Maran's 4-3-3. The new boys fit well into the system and should make it a less painful transition for the elefanti.
The viola had to put a little soap opera on hold in order to play the match, and did so by leaving Adem Ljajic, rumored to be on his way to AC Milan, out of the squad entirely. Either that, or the attacker simply refused to play. Either way, the squad seemed just fine without him, with Vincenzo Montella fielding a 3-5-2 with Mario Gomez and Giuseppe Rossi up front.
The crowd in Florence were thrilled to see the Serie A debut of Gomez and Rossi's first start after his long injury. Both were heavily involved, but Rossi will remember the match much more fondly than Gomez. In the 14th minute, Pepito scored the first goal of the game. Alberto Aquilani intercepted a pass in Catania's half and passed the ball to Juan Cuadrado, who served up Rossi for the inevitable Fiorentina lead.
In fact, the Colombian would put on the best display of the match, running up and down the right side and dribbling past Catania players. Maran tried to negate his presence by replacing Fabián Monzón with Alexis Rolín at the interval, but to no avail.
Catania did find an equalizer, less than 10 minutes after Rossi's goal. David Pizarro was too relaxed in the penalty area, missed his chance to clear the ball and was punished by Pablo Barrientos. The elefanti must be thrilled to have held on to Barrientos, as the Argentine was clearly the best player on the pitch for the visitors.
Fiorentina needed just six minutes to retake the lead. It had looked as though it really wasn't Pizarro's night, with the Chilean misplacing passes directly into the path of the opposition, but he turned it around in the 28th minute. First, Cuadrado did his thing, dribbled down the right side, but his cross was deflected. Unfortunately for Catania, Pizarro grabbed the ball, went around two of defenders and shot with power. Mariano Andujar could do nothing to stop the shot and Fior had a 2-1 lead.
While Rossi will remember his full Fiorentina debut fondly, Gomez may not, thanks to an incident in the 41st minute, when he managed to miss the goal despite it being harder to miss it than to score. Gomez hit the post after Rossi served him a perfect ball, leaving him all alone in front of the net. Gomez had few more misses in the second half, but luckily for Viola, it didn't cost them points.
The second half wasn't as eventful. Fiorentina supporters got to see another two players make their debuts, Josip Ilicic and Marcos Alonso, but they didn't excel much, unless you count Alonso's incredible skill of fouling everyone who comes near him.Toward the end of the match, Catania started increasing the pressure and seeing more of the ball, making the last ten minutes a bit nervy for the home side.
Fiorentina: Neto, Savic, Gonzalo, Compper, Cuadrado, Aquilani (Fernández 84), Pizarro, Borja Valero, Pasqual (Alonso 76), Rossi (Ilicic 61), Gomez
Goals: Rossi (14'), Pizarro (28')
Catania: Andujar, Spolli, Tachtsidis (Biagianti 80), Bergessio, Leto (Maxi López 81), Izco, Bellusci, Monzon (Rolín 45), Castro, Alvarez, Barrientos
Goals: Barrientos (22')