Where We Are
FIORENTINA (3-1-1) 5th in Serie A
It was a strange week for la Viola fans, who were treated to a strong Fiorentina display away at Inter on Thursday, only to ship two goals in the final 20 minutes and record their first Serie A loss of the season. It was a grating outcome, but as slakas pointed out, hardly shameful, especially considering the absences. What was really disappointing about the performance at the San Siro? The individual opportunities wasted, from a whole team panic-attack on a corner kick, to Fernandez failing to steal a simple bouncing ball in front of Jonathan before the second goal, to Ilicic fluffing a golden opportunity to make the score 2-2 at the death.
But Fiorentina remain 5th, have won 3 in 5, and are showing more consistent play just as the schedule is getting more difficult. Vincenzo Montella will be eager to secure 3 important home points before traveling to Ukraine for a tough Europa League fixture on Thursday, and then going to Rome to face Lazio on Sunday. With these games in mind, expect some rotation from the Viola boss. Excitingly, David Pizarro and Juan Cuadrado look set to return to the starting eleven, but captain Manuel Pasqual will be out for two weeks with a thigh problem.
With Cuadrado guaranteed to start if fit, the tactical set-up will be intriguing since Vespa's attributes on the wing aren't best suited for the recent 4-3-1-2. The team has also been practicing "secretly," possibly experimenting with many different formations with 3 games near. The most mysterious of the mysteries (yes, I am being intentionally redundant for emphasis) to emerge from these training sessions has been the rumor that old barnstormer and recently-presumed-useless left winger Juan Manuel Vargas might be preferred over Marcos Alonso for a return to the 3-5-2.
Less mysteriously, we can expect some rotation in the defense alongside Bomber Gonzalo Rodriguez, with Facundo Roncaglia and Marvin Compper forecasted as starters. Giuseppe Rossi, scorer of Fiorentina's first converted penalty kick at the San Siro in 42 years and now co-capocannoniere of Serie A with 5 goals, shouldn't be too fatigued and is set to start. Pepito's partner in attack could be any of the Eastern European contingent of Josep Ilicic, Rafal Wolski, and Ante Rebic, while Iakovenko remains out of the team with a slight knock.
FIORENTINA confirmed squad: Alonso, Ambrosini, Aquilani, Borja Valero, Bakic, Compper, Cuadrado, Fernandez, Ilicic, Lupatelli, Joaquin, Munua, Neto, Pizarro, Rebic, Rodriguez, Roncaglia, Rossi, Ryder, Savic, Tomovic, Vargas, Vecino, Wolski
Where They Are
Parma (1-2-2) 14th in Serie A
I was among the fans intrigued by Parma's summer signings, and thought it possible that this club - so successful in the 1990's - might begin to really point upwards again after so-so campaigns the previous two season. The signing of "mercurial" (ie brilliant but irresponsible) forward Antonio Cassano appeared a bold move, and they retain a solid core of experienced players. But the campaign has begun very poorly for Roberto Donadoni, with only two goals in their opening four games. The gialloblu offense did finally roar to life in midweek, however, as Parma recorded their first win of the season versus Atalanta in a surprising 4-3 thriller.
Parma come to Florence with some key absences however, notably ex-Juve and Fiorentina player Amauri (suspension after a red card) and also likely their best defender Gabriel Paletta (injury). The team still retains enough threat to trouble Fiorentina, however, with Marco Parolo and Cassano linking up very well on a couple of occasions against Atalanta, and many ex-players looking to prove themselves against their old club.
The last matchup at the Artemio Franchi between these two teams resulted in a less-than-pretty Fiorentina win, with Luca Toni and Stevan Jovetic decisive in the 2-0 victory. With some of the recent Florentine chatter revolving around the missing "vice-Gomez," it will be interesting to see how Montella's side attack Parma without a number 9; similarly, we'll have to see if Donadoni sets his team up looking to salvage a point away from home, or if he chooses to play more freely (as Parma did in their last visit). Let's hope for 3 more valuable points at home, which would leave us only a point off Inter in 4th, and 3 behind Juventus and Napoli sharing 2nd. Avanti viola ale!
FIORENTINA (3-5-2): Neto; Roncaglia, Gonzalo, Compper; Cuadrado, Aquilani, Pizarro, Borja Valero, Vargas; Wolski, Rossi
Parma (3-5-2): Mirante; Cassani, Felipe, Lucarelli; Rosi, Marchionni, Valdes, Parolo, Gobbi; Biabiany, Cassano
The game will be on beIN Sport at 2:45 Eastern Time in the U.S.