Fiorentina return home after another uplifting Europa League performance with one more match before the international break, and boy is it a doozy. Inter Milan come to town smarting from an embarrassing 1-4 defeat against Cagliari at the San Siro, but remain above Vincenzo Montella's side in the fledgling Serie A table. Now Fiorentina hope to leap above one of the apparent contenders for a European spot by notching a first home win.
To do that, however, la Viola must first find the net at home, after being unable to in their first two Serie A matches at the Artemio Franchi. It won't be easy against a Walter Mazzarri side; his now well-known 3-5-2 usually means that there is a 5 man defense when his team isn't in possession. Montella is expected to entrust a sprightly Khouma Babacar and a just-barely-fit Juan Cuadrado with the difficult task of unlocking the Walter catenaccio (the Colombian sat out last weekend's match against Torino due to a minor injury). The in-form Matias Fernandez will likely be entrusted with a prominent role in another return to the midfield diamond, with Borja Valero, Jasmin Kurtic, and Alberto Aquilani making up the rest of the quartet. Aquilani is rumored to be favored as a make-shift regista for the big match over the inconsistent David Pizarro, whose high profile errors in Belarus midweek somewhat marred an otherwise good team performance.
For Inter's part, they have (like Fiorentina) failed to dazzle in the early part of this season, with the exception of the eye-catching demolition of Sassuolo at the San Siro. Their two away performances this season have been particularly indifferent, so the Inter attack may well struggle in Florence against a Viola defense yet to concede at home in any competition since the start of the new season. Gonzalo Rodriguez & company have enjoyed three consecutive clean sheets at the Franchi for the first time since last December, and have only conceded once in total since opening day disappointment in Rome.
Mazzarri is expected to nearly have his full first team at his disposal. Nagatomo has to serve a one-match suspension after his red card against Cagliari, but Mateo Kovacic is expected to be fit, and his midfield play has been one of the highlights of Inter's season so far. Watch out for the gol del ex threat Pablo Daniel Osvaldo, and the industrious work of Danilo D'Ambrosio on the wing.
Last year the game in Florence was decided by a Mauro Icardi goal that was scored from an offside position, one of the many controversial decisions to penalize Fiorentina last spring. We'll be hoping not to relive that disappointment this time, and claim a big first 3 points of the season at home against a very good team.
FIORENTINA (4-3-1-2): Neto; Tomovic, Gonzalo, Savic, Alonso; Kurtic, Aquilani, Borja Valero; Matias Fernandez; Cuadrado, Babacar
Inter (3-5-2): Handanovic; Ranocchia, Vidic, Juan Jesus; D'Ambrosio, M'Vila, Medel, Kovacic, Dodo'; Osvaldo, Icardi