Where We Are
We've won 5 of our last 6, showing exciting flashes of class and a lot of character. This match up should require more of the former and less of the latter, with a nearly full strength Fiorentina looking for an emphatic win at home. The absences that remain, unfortunately, fall in the same role. David Pizarro makes the squad list but remains unlikely to start, while his midfield compatriots Massimo Ambrosini and Marko Bakic are also absent due to injury. So it will likely be the same midfield trio that started the second half at Pandurii, with Alberto Aquilani slightly deeper and central, with Matias Fernandez and our suddenly goalscoring Borja Valero ahead of him.
Nedad Tomovic, Stefan Savic, and Manuel Pasqual are all likely to rejoin Gonzalo Rodriguez in the starting eleven after a respite in midweek. In the attacking three, Juan Cuadrado is even more of an automatic starter than usual after his immense display in Romania Thursday night; he will be joined by the equally untouchable Giuseppe Rossi, who remains the Serie A capocannoniere despite not netting at Milan last week. Joaquin looks favored to complete the attacking three, although Vincenzo Montella may opt for Vargas, Ilicic, Matos, or even Rebic.
Where They Are
Sampdoria arrive in Florence in a terrible run of form and decimated by injury. Montella's predecessor Delio Rossi is having a tough time coaxing either fine play or resilience out of the blucerchiati, and likely doesn't want to repeat the experimental motivational tactics that worked so well on Adem Ljajic. Last weekend's 3-4 home loss to Sassuolo emphasized their defensive inconsistencies, Rossi's men have the third worst defense in Serie A. This weekend he is without both of his first-choice central defenders Andrea Costa and Daniele Gastaldello, and will have to improvise with his team selection, likely in a 3-5-2 formation that is really more of a 5-3-2. Manolo Gabbiadini is also a doubt, so a bulk of the attacking threat will have to be carried forward by a potentially isolated Eder, and by the physical work on the right hand side of ex-Viola Lorenzo de Silvestri.
Despite this Sampdoria's poor form, we last beat Sampdoria at the Franchi in 2009/2010, with goals from Jovetic and Gilardino. Last season this fixture ended in a 2-2 draw, with a Savic double providing the Fiorentina goals. Most of the signs heading into this game, however, are positive for Fiorentina. Montella & Co have shown solid defensive composure, some clinical finishing, and great desire to win in their past couple matches. Add the sense that we still haven't seen this Fiorentina team play as well as it can (just as we haven't seen Rossi play as well as he can), and it appears that this game is poised to be a statement moment for la Viola at Sampdoria's expense.
Of course, narratives rarely work this way in calcio, so let's hope we can get an early goal and move into rhythm early. The Pasqual / de Silvestri and Krsticic / Aquilani match ups will be key, and we will almost certainly be dangerous if Cuadrado and Rossi get an opportunity to break at what will almost definitely be a cautious Sampdoria. Let's go into the international break strong! FORZA VIOLA!
FIORENTINA (4-3-3) Neto; Tomovic, Gonzalo, Savic, Pasqual; Fernandez, Aquilani, Valero; Cuadrado, Rossi, Joaquin
Sampdoria (3-5-2) Da Costa; Mustafi, Palombo, Regini; De Silvestri, Obiang, Krsticic, Bajanarson, Gavazzi; Pozzi, Eder.