Good morning. The viola get underway at high noon EST today in their re-scheduled match against AC David Beckham. It begins a very difficult set of matches for our beloved Viola, and it is a chance to pull within 1 point of Genoa and Cagliari and close to within 4 points of 4th place Juve.
The Viola recovered from a miserable 5 game stretch, doing just enough to overcome a shoddy first half performance to come back and get a 2-1 home victory against Tuscan rivals Livorno. Two glaring defensive errors were made in the first half, the first was allowing and old and slow Lucarelli to beat the offside trap and rattle one off of the crossbar, and the second was a crap wall and a poor effort from Bassy on Rivas' goal.
Still, the Viola were dangerous, mainly through Vargas and Jo-Jo. Prandelli brought out Ljajic to begin the second half, and while he's still got some settling in to do in terms of getting used to playing with his teammates, he looked very good with the ball at his feet and combining with his teammates. Vargas equalized with a typically fierce left footed volley and Gila finally got out of his slump with a header, though he should have had at least 1 more goal in the match. Nothing much to say beyond the fact that it was a much needed 3 points, and the boys made it a bit harder than it needed to be.
Good lord, this is going to be tough. Especially without Gamberini, though I must say that Natali has been pretty impressive in the past couple of matches, playing within himself and doing a good job keeping strikers away from dangerous areas and gobbling up anything in the air. But yeah, look at this:
2/24 AC David Beckham
2/27 @ Baby Blue Relegation-Strugglers
3/9 Bayern second leg
3/13 @ Baby Blue Neapolitans
There's a few good things about this - mainly that barring today, all those matches will be on the TeeVee (no dodgy streams, WOOO!). Also, matches against teams above us in the standings are a great opportunity to make up ground and get back into the European places. Obviously, this will also make or break the season right here. Very scary to think about, but by no means are the boys out of it. I'm going to take a closer look at the table in a post later this week after today's match.
We know this one will be tough, and we know that Pato is a real danger man. Boriello doesn't worry me quite as much because he has been in form, because he's the type of striker that our remaining defenders can deal with a bit better. Pato's skill and pace are quite scary, and he's scored in every match he's ever played against Fiorentina, gulp.
Also, LDS is going to have his hands full against former world player of the year Ronaldinho. He's been good recently, and seems to be making a case to get back into Dunga's Brazil squad. Its a different task than the one he aced against Frank Ribery but hopefully that performance will have helped get his swag right.
The big question for me is how Prandelli will set up the central midfield. RickyMonty is back, but is Zanetti fit enough to go from the beginning? Does he start Donadel to keep things in check (and pick up a yellow for a fierce challenge on Ronaldinho) for the first 55 minutes and then bring on the veteran?
Lineups, aka Blind Guess Dept:
Fiorentina: 4-2-3-1; Bassy; Gobbi, Natali, Felipe, LDS; RickyMonty, Donadel; Vargas, Jo-Jo, Marchionni; Gila Monster.
ACDB: I should start working so I'm not looking this up. No Flamini, no Seedorf (got a soft spot for him), several guys who used to be a lot better 5 years ago, and one guy who rarely gives his best effort in MLS matches.
ESPN 360, and RAI, if you got it. We'll try and find some streams too.
Viola get it done. 2-1 again. Jo-Jo and Gila cancel out a Pato strike. Forza Viola!