Match Preview: Udinese vs. Fiorentina

Eyes closed, body on the line in Udine. Photo - Dino Panato

After two consecutive negative results, Fiorentina look for a response in the first leg of their Coppa Italia semifinal in the jinxed away fixture at Udine.

Where We Are

Two consecutive poor results and poor performances by Fiorentina have led to a flutter of fan anxiety this weekend ahead of this Coppa Italia showdown. Vincenzo Montella is hampered by a wealth of injuries, but has not done himself any favors, with his experimental selection on Saturday backfiring badly. Since that match against Cagliari, Montella must also bear the burden of three new short term injuries, with Alberto Aquilani, Massimo Ambrosini, and Ante Rebic all sustaining knocks ahead of today's game, while Juan Cuadrado will most likely receive another game of rest and recovery for his minor tweak. There was a piece of good news for Fiorentina fans in the injury report though: Mario Gomez will return to full training with the team on Wednesday.

Montella will likely welcome Vargas and Joaquin back into the starting eleven, in a hope that they will both create space and provide service into the box for our new number 32. Captain Manuel Pasqual will also return to shore up the defense, who are expected to host the Viola debut of ex-Lazio defender Modibo Diakite. Matias Fernandez, David Pizarro, and Borja Valero are expected to form the midfield triangle.

Where They Are

Udinese are having a terrible season in Serie A, and in 15th place they hover just above the relegation battle. The Coppa Italia has been a surprising bright spot for the team guided by Francesco Guidolin, beating both clubs from Milan on their way to this semifinal birth. An encouraging (and crucial) victory in Bologna will likely buoy the Zebrette who are also bringing some key players back to fitness, among them Gabriel Silva, one of the star performers in Udinese's victory against Fiorentina earlier this season. 17 year old Simone Scuffet is likely to start in goal again after a positive performance against Bologna covering for the injured Zeljko Brkic, while Antonio Di Natale is (thankfully) expected to be rested in favor of the inconsistent but talented Colombian Luis Muriel.

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Udinese is an odd semifinal opponent for Fiorentina, because on the one hand you couldn't have expected much better, avoiding all of the "bigs," but at the same time Udinese and Guidolin have a terribly annoying habit of surprising big teams in important matches, and Fiorentina are one of their favorite teams to play spoilers for, especially at their ground. The good news is that Montella and Co. can't help but recognize the insidious nature of the opponent (although compared to the Cagliari game, the highlights of that game look like a great performance), as well as respecting the magnitude of the fixture. Andrea Della Valle, as well as some of the locker room leaders, have all demanded an instant response from the Cagliari game. A draw would be fine for our Coppa Italia chances, but a win is what we need. FORZA VIOLA!!!

Projected Lineups

Udinese (4-2-3-1) Scuffet; Heurtaux, Naldo, Danilo, Gabriel Silva; Allan, Pinzi; Basta, Nico Lopez,  Lazzari; Muriel

FIORENTINA (4-3-3) Neto; Diakite, Gonzalo, Savic, Pasqual; Mati, Pizarro, Borja; Joaquin, Matri, Vargas

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