Stadio Artemio Franchi
October 20th 2013, 13:00 GMT kick-off
It’s not a derby in the true sense of the word yet Fiorentina facing Juventus commands the attention of Calcio lovers. A relatively new rivalry that emerged in the 1981-82 season with an infamous penalty incident that saw Juventus pip Fiorentina to the Scudetto. A rivalry that was amplified with Roberto Baggio jumping ship to the Bianconeri and the protests that came with that transfer.
They are two teams, though, that have a lot in common; similar playing styles with ambitious and upcoming managers that have garnered enthusiasm among Italian fans and indeed of their own; two clubs that have a project that has been shaping up nicely.
Juventus are now tied for second place with Napoli but do have this game in hand. They remain 5 points behind runaway leaders AS Roma. As for Fiorentina, they sit in 6th place in the league charts, 12 points adrift the top and 7 off their Sunday evening opponents.
Team News and Tactical Brief
After a successful turnaround in their fortunes by Montella and narrowly missing out on a Champions League spot, Fiorentina spent the summer reinforcing wisely. The revenue generated by the sale of Stevan Jovetic was used to recruit talented players such as Mario Gomez, Josip Ilicic and Joaquin. Injury concerns haven’t helped their cause though as two key players in Cuadrado and Gomez suffered knocks. While the former has recovered and should be available at Montella’s disposal, the latter could be out for two more match-days.
Montella has shown fearlessness to tinker with his formations during his ongoing tenure at Fiorentina. He is expected to start with a 4-3-2-1 system with Giuseppe Rossi as the lone front-man. Rossi has flourished this season and has firmly put behind the demons of his injuries. A call-up to the National side was much deserved and he did get a bit of playing time against Armenia.
Much of Fiorentina’s play revolves around two players: Borja Valero and Juan Cuadrado. The duo are expected to play in roles more advanced than they are used to and support Rossi in attack. Valero’s creativity coupled with Cuadrado’s explosiveness makes for a dangerous combination. David Pizarro could also make a return to the side after there were fears that he would miss the game due to injury. It looks likely that he will win the race against time and start in the midfield triplet. Claudio Marchisio earlier in the week lavished praise of Pizarro by calling him the best in his role after Pirlo. Juventus will certainly know who to suffocate in midfield to stop the supply.
Possible Starting XI (4-3-2-1): Neto; Tomovic, Rodriguez, Savic, Pasqual; Aquilani, Pizarro, Ambrosini; Cuadrado, Borja Valero; Rossi
They’ve been doing the bare minimum to cross over the finishing line and have seldom convinced this season but Juventus remain firm favorites to bag the Scudetto. They will however, be weary of Roma who have shown no signs of stopping. Antonio Conte’s side also have the little matter of travelling to Spain to lock horns against Real Madrid in the Champions League, a game that is the most important of their season so far.
Arturo Vidal could face Conte’s wrath after he arrived late in Turin from International duty with Chile. While it’s not clear what caused his delay, he will almost certainly face disciplinary action from the club and start from the bench against Fiorentina. That may not be a bad thing for Juventus as Vidal featured in both of Chile’s games and could be suffering from fatigue and/or jet-lag.
Worryingly though for Juventus would be the fitness issues that have struck key players. Lichtsteiner, Vucinic and Quagliarella are all ruled out. Sebastian Giovinco is expected to get the nod over Fernando Llorente in attack. Giovinco scored an excellent goal against Milan and could well be on the path to rediscovering his form while Simone Padoin should start yet again ahead of the shaky Mauricio Isla.
Possible Starting XI (3-5-2): Buffon; Barzagli, Bonucci, Chiellini; Padoin, Pogba, Pirlo, Marchisio, Asamoah; Tevez, Giovinco
Player To Watch Out For
Giuseppe Rossi (Fiorentina)
It’s no secret that Rossi was a Juventus target while he was at Villareal but perhaps his injury set-backs catalyzed hesitancy on Juve’s behalf. Now performing at the level that warrants the enthusiasm behind his return, Rossi as the only natural striker for Fiorentina will have his work cut-out against the Juventus defense. Nevertheless, if there’s a player capable of providing a moment of inspiration, it’s Rossi.
Fiorentina 1-1 Juventus
This should be an interesting tie. Both sides will have midweek European commitments on their mind and may not play at their full potential. Juventus are in better form heading into this game but Fiorentina will have the backing of a sold out Artemio Franchi. A low-scoring draw could be on the cards here.
Blast From the Past