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Match Preview: Roma vs. Fiorentina

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Fiorentina face an extremely difficult away fixture after their crucial victory over Hellas Verona.

I couldn't not have a picture of Captain Borja. Photo
I couldn't not have a picture of Captain Borja. Photo
Gabriele Maltinti

Where We Are

Fiorentina are starting to close in on the pack in the Champions League places after a decisive victory over the team directly below them in the classifica. Despite two sequential mediocre away outings, la Viola have still won 4 of their last 6, and often rise to the occasion for big games. A result in Rome would go a long ways toward cementing our contention for the top spots, but it won't come easy, and Vincenzo Montella will certainly hope that his team look a little less vulnerable defensively than they did midweek.

According to most sources close to the club, Montella is likely to (unsurprisingly) favor experience in this difficult away match, with Massimo Ambrosini and Juan Manuel Vargas again being handed starts, and the only-just recovered captain Manuel Pasqual likely to again don the armband in the first minute. With Vargas and Cuadrado behind Giuseppe "Can't Stop Scoring" Rossi, the midfield also sees the return of ex-Roma Alberto Aquilani. David Pizarro (another former Romanista) is in the squad but unlikely to start because of a niggling back injury. Veteran Marvin Compper may also be favored to the inconsistent Stefan Savic.

Where They Are

Roma had a historic beginning to their Serie A campaign, rejuvenated by new head coach Rudi Garcia, a newfound defensive solidity, and a couple of astute summer signings. They tore through the league in the fall, with 10 straight victories and only 1 goal conceded in that spell. Even now they've only allowed 4 goals in 14 games, but the giallorossi have drawn their last four games, including matches at home to Sassuolo and Cagliari. Their once-commanding lead at the top of the table has disappeared, with Juventus leading by a commanding 6 points before kick-off. Roma will desperately want to get back on track with a big win in front of the home fans.

A big part of Roma's slide has been a couple injuries to key players, most notably captain, talisman, and habitual-Fiorentina-nemesis Francesco Totti. Totti makes his return to the squad for this match but (thankfully) is unlikely to be fit enough to start. Roma do regain masterful midfield players Daniele De Rossi and Miralem Pjanic, which will make the midfield duel an exciting one with Borja Valero in such stunning form. Keep an eye on Roma's dangerous but recently misfiring front three of Florenzi, Gervinho, and yes... *notable* ex Adem Ljajic. Maybe he will be too frightened to play against a "Rossi" to feature prominently.

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Well if the last game was spicy, this one is... dense. There are a lot of narrative lines that I could play with, but my thoughts approaching the match at the Olimpico have been quite pragmatic: a draw would be a good result, we are still without Mario Gomez, Roma look a good side (blah blah blah). But that doesn't stop me from hoping for something more, perhaps because of the unpredictable nature of this game. There is a sense that truly anything could happen, from blowout to 5-5 draw to 0-0 draw. One thing is for sure: I'll be watching, and I hope you will be too. Sempre forza viola amici!!

Projected Lineups

Roma (4-3-3) De Sanctis; Maicon, Benatia, Castan, Dodo; Pjanic, De Rossi, Strootman; Florenzi, Ljajic, Gervinho

FIORENTINA (4-3-3) Neto; Tomovic, G. Rodriguez, Compper, Pasqual; Aquilani, Ambrosini, Borja Valero; Cuadrado, Rossi, Vargas

This game will be televised live on beIN Sport in America at 6:25 EST.