A Last Test (Before Other, Bigger Tests)

Sporting's lineup for a 2011 Europa League match. Photo - Paolo Bruno

Fiorentina have been breezing through the practice exams, only to fail that last one in Spain. Will they be able to solve historical heavyweights Sporting Clube de Portugal?

Somehow most of the summer has slipped past us, and we have arrived at the eve of Fiorentina's last preseason friendly against Sporting Lisbon. As I mentioned in yesterday's little reflection, the focus of tomorrow's match in Lisbon will be on showing improvement in the areas that were weakest on Thursday. While beating our illustrious opponents in the beautiful Estádio José Alvalade would be quite fine, we can again expect to see a Fiorentina side that is in the process of returning to full sharpness playing against opponents whose season begins a week sooner.

Rumors from the Fiorentina camp indicate that Montella will make three changes to the starting eleven without changing the 4-3-3 formation. Nenad Tomovic is set to be the starting right back in place of Facundo Roncaglia, and Alberto Aquilani might make way to give Massimo Ambrosini some minutes as a starter. Additionally, David Pizarro is expected to reclaim his starting role.

As far as Sporting go, they are going through a bit of an interesting moment as a club. They finished a disappointing 7th in the Portugese top division last season, have just sold their top scorer in Ricky van Wolfswinkel and haven't won the league since 2001 (or a trophy, for that matter, since 2008). Sporting remain, however, one of the powers of Portugese club football, with 18 Primeira Liga titles to their credit, 3rd most behind Benfica and Porto. They, like Fiorentina, were enjoying a great preseason record until their midweek loss (to Braga), and will be looking to pass the test sure to be presented by our Tuscan giants. Players to watch on the Sporting side of the ball include Portugal goalkeeper Rui Patricio, young Portugese defensive midfielder William Carvalho, and Seattle Sounders-owned Fredy Montero. As far as I know, this game is not televised, but I will be following the game through the RadioBlu radio stream and then tweeting updates at @Viola_Nation, which you can check up on even if you aren't on Twitter.

FIORENTINA expected (4-3-3):

Neto; Tomovic, Savic, Compper, Pasqual; Ambrosini, Pizarro, B. Valero; Cuadrado, Gomez, Ljajic. Coach: Vincenzo Montella

Sporting Clube de Portugal expected (4-3-3):

Rui Patrício; Cédric, Maurício, Marcos Rojo, Jeffreson; William Carvalho, Adrien, Gerson Magrão; Wilson Eduardo, Carrillo, Montero. Coach: Leonardo Jardim

And now enjoy this entirely unnecessary and dorky video of the Fiorentina team in transit from Villarreal to Lisbon:

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