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Juventus-Fiorentina: Let the Hatin’ Begin

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baggio3.jpgFirst of all, my apologies about the lateness of this preview. We had this idea to get something up earlier, but the best laid plans of mice and men, blah, blah, blah.

Regardless, tomorrow in Turin we will see the renewal of one of the most acrimonious and violent rivalrys in all of Italy: Fiorentina (referred to here as “the good guys”) and Juventus (referred to almost everywhere as “the villains.”) Goal.com has a fine preview of the match, which includes a few of the historical highlights of the rivalry, including the “stolen” scuddeto in 1982 and the sale of the Divine Ponytail to Juve in 1990. It’s pretty good reading.

Funny thing about this rivalry, though: it is a bit like a rivalry closer to my home here in Boston, Massachusetts, the Red Sox – Yankees rivalry. See, up until a few years ago, the Red Sox always viewed the hateful Yankees as their principal rival, and focused nearly all their attention on what the pinstripes were doing. The Yankees, however, took significantly less notice of what the Red Sox were up to because they were not as good. Now, in the last few years, that gap has closed, as the Sox have won two out of the last four World Series. Now it is a real rivalry.

This is similar to how things are in Florence. The last time I was there, (November) I got into an animated discussion (as usual) with a cab driver about football. Because I was an American, he assumed I didn’t know anything and tried to explain the basics of Fiorentina Football. (I later earned his respect by discoursing on the last five years of Cesare Prandelli’s career.) Anyway, during the cab ride, the driver kept insisting that Juventus and Fiorentina were the greatest rivals in Italy, and that I should never, ever wear a Juve shirt in Florence. (Not a problem for me.) This is all well and good, but when I talk to a Juventus fan, and ask him who the club's greatest rival is, he invariably names Torino or Inter or Milan before finally naming Fiorentina fifth or sixth. Just like Yankees fans used to do with the Sox.

That, in essence, is why this game is so important to the Viola. It’s true they HATE Juve, but they want to be hated back, and you can only be hated if you are respected. Gamberini, in this article, talks about how much the club wants to beat Juve, to prove they are one of the big boys. The boys do not have a good record this year vs. the ‘Big Four’ in Italy, and a win tomorrow would go a long way towards getting a little more respect, and attention, from Juve. Here’s hoping for a memorable Sunday.

Starting Line-Ups (aka The Blind Guess Department)

Juventus: Buffon; Zebina, Legrottaglie, Stendardo, Molinaro; Camoranesi, Sissoko, Nocerino, Palladino; Trezeguet, Del Piero

Fiorentina: Frey; Ujfalusi, Dainelli, Gamberini, Gobbi; Kuzmanovic, Liverani, Montolivo; Pazzini, Vieri, Santana

Who’s Not Playing?
Cristiano Zanetti, Pavel Nedved, Giorgio Chiellini, and Jorge Andrade are out for the black and white. Andrian Mutu and Franco Semioli are out for the purple.

Recent Form

Juventus: D W W L D

Fiorentina: L D W L W

Prediction

2-0 Fiorentina. There. I said it.