Th international break is over, and the real football is back. After a brilliant performance and an important win against Inter Milan, Fiorentina awaits Lazio in another big game at the Artemio Franchi. Both teams have nine points so far, and both have ambitions of playing in Europe next season. Despite not having started brightly, Fiorentina and Lazio are still close to European spots.
Surprisingly, there have been only eight goals in the six games Fiorentina have played this season, while Lazio's have been among the most exciting -- something not many fans could have expected. But the positive from these stats is that the viola concede much less than in previous two seasons. This new defensive solidity will be put to the test on Sunday, with Lazio's Filip Djordjevic in great form. And if the match against Inter is anything to go by, we should see Vincenzo Montella's boys score more regularly.
Even though there were hopes that Mario Gomez might be ready for this game, it hasn't come to pass. Super Mario wasn't called up for this match, but no oddly there is no need to worry -- there is Khouma El Babacar. In fact, it might be Gomez who will need to worry about his place in the starting line up if the young forward continues playing like he has in the recent weeks.
Both teams have a couple injuries influencing the squad selection. Fiorentina, of course, is without Gomez and Giuseppe Rossi, while Micah Richards, Joaquin and Marko Marin aren't fully fit and probably won't feature in this match (Marin hasn't been called up, in fact). The visitors will miss Gentiletti, Basta, Keita, Cataldi and suspended Lorik Cana.
Montella is expected to field an unchanged Fiorentina formation after the home win against Inter. The 4-3-1-2 that many criticized, worked (to put it mildly) against Inter. It is expected that the player who we have all known as one of our most consistent in recent seasons (Borja Valero), is expected to start from the bench once again, with Jasmin Kurtic and Mati Fernandez starting instead. The latter should take his place behind the forwards, Babacar and Juan Cuadrado, while Alberto Aquilani and David Pizarro will keep Kurtic company in the midfield.
Lazio coach Stefano Pioli is expected to field a counter attacking team in a 4-3-3 formation.
Fiorentina (4-3-1-2): Neto; Tomovic, Rodriguez, Savic, Alonso; Kurtic, Pizarro, Aquilani; Mati Fernandez; Cuadrado, Babacar
Lazio (4-3-3): Marchetti; Cavanda, De Vrij, Ciani, Radu; Parolo, Biglia, Mauri; Candreva, Djordjevic, Lulic