Where We Are
La Viola suffered a disappointing draw at home against Genoa last week, but the result was perhaps slightly less disappointing than home draws earlier this season, especially considering the absences in the Fiorentina side. But two negative Serie A results in a row for the first time since September before the fixtures start growing in importance and difficulty would hardly be ... good.
Vincenzo Montella is boosted for the match against Cagliari by the return to central defense of Gonzalo Rodriguez, as well as the return to fitness of Borja Valero, although he will likely begin on the bench, with the hope that he will be 100% for Tuesday's Coppa Italia match at Udinese. Juan Cuadrado, who suffered a niggle in training, might also leave his spot to Joaquin. Anderson is in the running for a starting spot in midfield, but Matias Fernandez and Alberto Aquilani are the favorites to begin alongside a David Pizarro who seems to be recovering his verve. Vargas, Wolski, and Ilicic all have a shot of completing the attacking trident alongside ex-Cagliari striker Alessandro Matri.
Where They Are
Cagliari are without a win in 6 and languish in 14th in the Serie A table, only 4 points above the relegation places. Last weekend i Rossoblu looked to have sealed a 1-0 victory at home against Milan despite not playing particularly well, only to concede two goals in stoppage time and coming away with nothing. Coach Luis Diego Lopez is without Victor Ibarbo due to appendicitis, as well as Nene and midfielder Andrea Cossu. Space then to Daniele Dessena and Albin Ekdal, as well as Mauricio Pinilla in attack.
Despite recent results, Cagliari have more talent than their league position reflects in my opinion, and remain a potentially dangerous side. This match will test the Sardinian side's character, and may play a big part in determining the trajectory of the rest of their season.
As we mentioned in our ViolaPod, Cagliari is a difficult place for Fiorentina to travel to historically, with only 3 Serie A wins ever registered in Sardinia. The first meeting of this Serie A season was in Florence, and was a heartbreaking game on multiple levels with both Juan Cuadrado and Mario Gomez leaving the field with injuries, and Pinilla equalizing in the 89th minute. Both sides will be changed from that fixture, Fiorentina with Matri now leading the attack, and Cagliari without Radja Nainggolan, who had a stunningly good game defensively for Cagliari. The rossoblu will be eager to remain Fiorentina's bad-luck opponent, while the viola will be eager to get a morale boosting win and performance in hostile territory. FORZA VIOLA RAGAZZI!
Cagliari (4-3-1-2) Avramov; Pisano, Rossettini, Astori, Murru; Dessena, Conti, Eriksson; Ekdal; Sau, Pinilla
FIORENTINA (4-3-2-1) Neto; Roncaglia, G. Rodriguez, Savic, Pasqual; Aquilani, Pizarro, M. Fernandez; Joaquin, Ilicic; Matri