How Josip Ilicic became Fiorentina’s mainstay under Paulo Sousa

09 November at 23:54
Exactly one year ago Josip Ilicic was edging a Fiorentina exit as his relationship with the Artemio Franchi supporters has deteriorated.

The former Palermo star’s performances with La Viola were so poor that most of fans booed him even before he could enter the pitch and the Slovenia International repeatedly hit back at critics theatrically.

The 27-year-old didn’t left Fiorentina last January and his performances have seen a slow improvement during the second part of last season under Vincenzo Montella.

The Portuguese manager usually opt for a 3-4-3 in which the one of the two attacking wingers (usually Ante Rebic or Federico Bernardeschi) are running up and down the flank, while Ilicic is playing up front as supporting striker.

With Paulo Sousa in charge of the club, Ilicic has finally restored self-confidence, not to mention how good is the relationship with Fiorentina’s supporters right now.

In a few words, Ilicic can be finally considered a Fiorentina’s mainstay along with former Dnipro hit-man Nikola Kalinic or the team’s playmaker Borja Valero.

His stats in the first part of the season are simply amazing. The Slovenian has scored three goals in the last two games (one against Sampdoria and two versus Lech Poznan in Europe League).

He has scored four goals in Serie A (althought he netted three from the spot)  adding two more in Europe League. His positive attacking contribution for the current Serie A leaders is  so clear that Ilicic has created 18 goal chances for the Tuscan side shooting 11 times on target.

Despite his 1,90 m height, Ilicic’s technical skills are also bright as the 27-year-old  got the 86% of passes right and he has delivered three assists for his teammates as well.

It is fair to say that Bernardeschi’s defensive duties down the flank are helping a lot Ilicic’s performances up front, while it really seems that Paulo Sousa has found the right balance between attack and defense.

Will it be enough for Fiorentina to claim their first Serie A title after 47 endless seasons?
Lorenzo Bettoni (@lorebetto)
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