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Match Preview: Fiorentina vs. Livorno

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Fiorentina return to Serie A action after the holidays looking to banish memories of last January in a Tuscan derby at home against Livorno.

Giuseppe Bellini

Where We Are

Fiorentina enter this game after a well-timed break for a tired team, who enjoyed a week off before returning to training ahead of Livorno coming to town. Vincenzo Montella can thank the time off for the gift of a healthy squad, with Gonzalo Rodriguez and David Pizarro both expected to be fit, although he still hasn't received his Mario-Gomez-shaped Christmas present. The German international is expected to return to the bench for the road match against Torino, but in the meantime Viola fans will have to make do with the man of the moment, Giuseppe Rossi, capocannoniere of Serie A with 14 goals.

Montella will try to exploit the good form of finally healthy Josip Ilicic as well as wide men Juan Cuadrado and Juan Manuel Vargas in a return to the 3-5-2, a formation that has also lent itself to more defensively solid performances from Fiorentina. Facundo Roncaglia may also start over Nenad Tomovic.

Where They Are

Livorno are enduring a typical "first-season-back-in-Serie A," where the mission is to survive to stay in the top flight again next year, and they have their work cut out for them. They haven't won since the beginning of November at home to Atalanta, and have lost 5 of their last 6. Now coach Davide Nicola will look for reaction away in one of the toughest grounds to travel to in Serie A as they languish in 19th place with only 13 points.

The Amaranto have chopped and changed the side a bit, with absences in the defense calling for a slight shift in module. Brazilian veteran Paulinho remains the danger man for Livorno as the sole striker.

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The last time these two sides met, Vargas scored one and assisted another and he is expected to start over club captain Manuel Pasqual, but there is no Gilardino (or Gomez) to get on the end of his often excellent crosses. The tactical battle in the middle should be interesting to watch, as well as the tempo with which Fiorentina play. Expect Cuadrado and the crowd to make the difference for the home side, who are 7-2-1 at the Artemio Franchi, and will be reluctant to lose points against a Tuscan opponent. Glad to be back in 2014 everyone, FORZA VIOLA!!

Projected Lineups

FIORENTINA (3-5-2) Neto; Roncaglia, Gonzalo Rodriguez, Savic; Cuadrado, Aquilani, Pizarro, Borja Valero, Vargas; Ilicic, Rossi

Livorno (5-3-1-1) Bardi; Mbaye, Valentini, Rinaudo, Ceccherini, Schiattarella; Luci, Benassi, Duncan; Greco; Paulinho