LIVESTREAM: Italian Semifinal – Firenze Guelfi @Bolzano Giants, Sunday, June 23, 3p CEDT (9a EDT)

The 6-3 Firenze Guelfi travel to Bolzano, Italy Sunday, June 23, to face the 6-2 Bolzano Giants in the Italian Federation of American Football semifinals at Stadio Europa.

This is the first time in their brief history in the top league in Italy that Firenze have reached the semifinals. The Giants, on the other hand, are making their sixth straight trip to the Final Four. They have advanced to the championship final twice.

The Giants lost their final two games of the year after opening the season with six straight wins including a thrilling 36-32 victory over the Guelfi. They then lost in the CEFL Cup to the Moscow Spartans so they are entering this game on a losing streak. Still, Giants QB Austin Gahafer was the third leading passer in Italy with 1,759 yards and 21 TDs and he has the league’s top receiver, Mark Simone, to throw to along with  Marco Bonacci. In the win over Firenze in the regular season, Simone and Bonacci had 264 yards receiving and two touchdowns between them. And Bolzano has shored up the defense with one of the leading defensive backs in Germany last year, John Tidwell who played for the Frankfurt Universe.

Firenze finished third in the regular season and defeated the Torino Giaguari 31-14 in the wild card round last week. Prior to that, Firenze had not played a game since beating the Bergamo Lions 41-17 in the final regular season game of the year  over a month ago. The Guelfi boast the second leading offense in the league averaging 35.9 points a game behind the league’s best running back in Silas Nacita and quarterback Lynx Hawthorne. Nacita rushed for 1,146 yards and 20 TDs to win the rushing title by a wide margin while Hawthorne is fifth with 471. Although Hawthorne only threw for 1,060 yards in eight games, he finished second in passing efficiency with a rating of 146.8.

Nacita can be a game changer though. He is so versatile that the Giants have to account for him on both offense and defense not to mention his kick and punt returning ability. In the opening game of the year for Firenze, a 27-17 win over the Parma Panthers, he had a monster day.  He caught eight passes for 121 yards and one touchdown, rushed for 77 yards, returned three punts for 62 yards, snagged two interceptions, returning one for a pick six while also making three tackles. He had 292 All Purpose yards.

The Giants will definitely have eyes on him all game long.

So it will be the Guelfi ground game versus the aerial attack of the Giants.

Watch the game live here. Firenze Guelfi @Bolzano Giants, Sunday, June 23, 3p CEDT (9a EDT)

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