Match Preview: Fiorentina vs. Atalanta

Marco Luzzani

With absences and a lack of cohesion plaguing recent performances, Fiorentina must look for a reaction at home against a tricky Atalanta team.

Where We Are

An excellent run of winter results started to lead us to believe that Fiorentina could go through a whole winter avoiding a serious dip in form, but now here we are. And yet Vincenzo Montella can take comfort in seeing his team still only 3 points away from 3rd place, with the other Champions League competitors facing difficult matches this weekend as well. So la Viola come home to another golden opportunity against a team in the bottom half of the table.

It's (obviously) not all sunshine and daisies in Violaland entering this tricky fixture, however, with Alberto Aquilani and Massimo Ambrosini not recovered from minor injuries, and Mario Gomez only beginning his return to first team action, (although he did so in spectacular fashion on day one of full practices, with a brilliant scissor kick volley). Loanee Modibo Diakite impressed in his debut at Udinese in the Coppa Italia last Tuesday, and is favored over Roncaglia to pair Gonzalo Rodriguez and Stefan Savic in a return to the 3-5-2. Juan Manuel Vargas and the returning Juan Cuadrado will be charged with creating play out wide, with Borja Valero, Pizarro, and Anderson expected to start in midfield. Ilicic is currently favored to play behind Alessandro Matri as Fiorentina's starting strikers.

Where They Are

Atalanta are one of Serie A's enigmatic mid-table clubs, blessed with reasonable talent and discipline, but not with consistency, depth, or luck, especially away from home. Stefano Colantuono and the rest of La Dea have to be feeling good after registering a huge upset win over Napoli last week, deservedly thumping the visiting side 3-0.

The nerazzurri are without young talents Baselli and Livaja, as well as veteran defender Mario Yepes, but will still field a lineup that should give Fiorentina some problems. German Denis has returned to scoring, and Luca Cigarini returns to the starting eleven, a player who has quietly elevated his game quite brilliantly and will test our team shape when he gets on the ball. Giacomo Bonaventura is another player with the potential to put our defense in difficulty, but with his dribbling and eye for goal.

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It's hard to get a good fix on this game, with Atalanta downright impressive victory over Napoli last week, and Fiorentina looking so uncomfortable of late. Another formation change and a not-insignificant amount pressure doesn't bode well for la Viola either. At the same time, Fiorentina were fairly comfortable winning earlier this season in Bergamo, and Montella's team has been excellent at home this season. If Borja Valero and Cuadrado can get rolling early, it might be much more comfortable than we anticipated.

Projected Lineups

FIORENTINA (3-5-2) Neto; Diakite, Gonzalo Rodriguez, Savic; Cuadrado, Anderson, Pizarro, Borja Valero, Vargas; Ilicic, Matri

Atalanta (4-4-1-1) Consigli; Benalouane, Stendardo, Lucchini, Brivio; Raimondi, Cigarini, Carmona, Bonaventura; Moralez; Denis

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