On Sunday the Viola will travel to the Stadio Friuli for a potentially fantastic match against Udinese. Fiorentina currently sits in 4th place, just four points up on nearest rivals AC Milan. Udinese is having an impressive season themselves, currently in 6th, and in solid contention for one of next year’s UEFA Cup spots. Before Christmas, Udinese looked like a real threat to break into the top four.
Both teams play exciting, attacking football (I particularly like watching Quagliarella and Di Natale for Udinese) and both teams will be looking for a win. Fiorentina is desperate to stay ahead of Milan in their Champions League spot, and Milan has a very winnable game vs. Atalanta this weekend. Udinese, meanwhile, is only one point above Samp and yet just two below Milan. A win would do wonders in solidifying their place in the table.
The Viola, however, will be going into the match with a few handicaps. Mutu and Liverani are suspended, while Gamberini, Jorgensen, and Semioli are all injured and likely out for the match. The football websites that predict this sort of thing feel that the Great Man will go with a front line of Santana, Pazzini, Osvaldo, although Papa Waigo could certainly get a start or an extended run-out. With a number of players really rounding into form (including the enigmatic Montolivo and Pazzini) at the right time, this is still a winnable match for Fiorentina, despite the fact that they are playing a very quality opponent. To win, however, will require turning around the distressing trend this season of poor play on the road.
Coach Prandelli must (and certainly will) also take into consideration that they have a critical UEFA Cup tie coming up on Thursday evening vs. PSV. With Fiorentina going back to the punishing two-games-a-week schedule, it will be interesting to see how the Gaffer juggles his lineup to try to keep relatively fresh legs out there for both matches. This is where the suspensions of Mutu and Liverani might be a blessing, but the plain fact is that both Sunday’s and Thursday’s matches are critical for the club.
Recent Form (all Competitions)
Udinese: W D D W W
Fiorentina: W L W L W
Starting Line-Ups (AKA The Blind Guess Department)
Udinese: Handanovic; Coda, Felipe, Lukovic; Mesto, Inler, D’Agostino, Dossena; Pepe, Quagliarella, Di Natale
Fiorentina: Frey; Ujfalusi, Kroldrup, Dainelli, Pasqual; Kuzmanovic, Donadel, Montolivo; Santana, Pazzini, Osvaldo
I’m like a broken record, but I see Fiorentina winning 3-1 in a thriller. Luckily, I am aware no one does (or should) take these predictions seriously.
And One Final Thing…
Music to my ears, boss. Music to my ears.
I’ll be back on Sunday night with the recap. Forza Viola!