Here we are, again. The biggest game of the season for any Fiorentina fan is ahead - a derby against Juventus, and we're all hoping it will be a repeat of the last season's one of the most memorable comebacks and an epic win for the viola. Although it is likely that everyone would gladly sign for a dull 1:0 win.
Juve is the best team in the league so far. The bianconeri have 34 points, out of possible 39. They are on the six wins run in all competitions. Massimiliano Allegri's decision to shift to a very dynamic 4-3-2-1 formation was the right one, and Juve started resembling the team from Antonio Conte's first season. Their pressing, and the intensity of packed midfield was too much for their opponents in the recent matches. Still, Allegri reportedly chose to switch back to 3-5-2 to be able to counter Fiorentina better. Besides, few injuries and the need to rest players before the decisive Champions League clash with Atletico Madrid dictated his choice to a certain extent Juve is without Asamoah, Romulo, Caceres and Barzagli (all injured) and Liechtsteiner (suspended).
A change in formation means Allegri has to give up one of the central midfielders. Reports in Italian media suggest that Claudio Marchisio will be benched. While Marchisio is certainly a decent player, he is realistically (far) less dangerous than Paul Pogba, Arturo Vidal or Andrea Pirlo, thus making the idea of "resting him" and making it easier for Fiorentina a little ridiculous. However, in the attack, The Old Lady will be without Carlos Tevez.
Fiorentina's season so far wasn't brilliant, but in the last three games in all competitions there were some positives. Vincenzo Montella has finally found the right balance with the 3-5-2 he's been using in the recent matches. Despite the team still looking a bit shaky, there is much more reason for optimism than there was only two weeks ago.
After the wins in Verona and Cagliari, there doesn't seem to be any reason for our coach to change anything in the starting line up. The only dilemma seems to be between Jose Basanta and Nenad Tomovic. The midfield will, once again, consist of David Pizarro as the regista, and Borja Valero and Mati Fernandez in a little more advanced positions. It will be interesting to see how will they cope with their much more muscular Juve counterparts.
Same goes for the attack - there is no reason to try to repair something that seems to be working. Mario Gomez and Juan Cuadrado both seem to be coming into form. The only valid alternative at the moment would be putting the Colombian on the right side and using Ilicic or Babacar up front, but that doesn't seem likely at the moment. Of course, there is always a possibility of a surprise. Marko Marin doesn't seem like an option for the starting eleven, as he still hasn't played 90 minutes this season. Then again, that seems like something Montella might just do, and having two players like him and Cuadrado on the pitch at the same time could be an interesting solution.
The Old Lady is the favorite. As much as it might hurt, they are a better team. Even without few players, they are still a formidable opponent, even at Artemio Franchi. It never was and it never will be an easy game, but the boys in purple are in good form. It might help that Juve have the much more important Champions League game only a couple days later.
Fiorentina (3-5-2): Neto; Savic, Rodriguez, Basanta; Joaquin, Mati Fernandez, Pizarro, Valero, Alonso; Cuadrado, Gomez
Juventus (3-5-2): Buffon; Bonucci, Ogbonna, Chiellini; Pereyra, Vidal, Pirlo, Pogba, Evra; Llorente, Coman
Injuries and suspensions:
Fiorentina: Giuseppe Rossi, Manuel Pasqual, Federico Bernardeschi (injured).
Juventus: Andrea Barzagli, Kwadwo Asamoah , Romulo. Luca Marrone, Martin Caceres (injured), Stephan Lichtsteiner (suspended)
Date and time:
Friday, December 6, 8:45 p.m. local, 2:45 p.m. ET
Stadio Artemio Franchi, Florence, Italy
150 matches in Serie A, 32 wins for Fiorentina, 69 Juventus, 49 draws.
On Artemio Franchi: Fiorentina 26 wins, Juventus 20, 29 draws.