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Match Preview: THE Game

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Fiorentina play for advancement to the Europa League quarterfinals against Juventus in Florence after a 1-1 draw in Turin.


Not sure where to start on this match preview, to be honest. I could - as many other much more eloquent Serie A commentators have already done - speak on the historical significance of this match after the 1990 UEFA Cup Final, or summarize again the storied hatred Florentines have for Juventus. I could also talk about how a big European cup victory against Juve would continue in the process of putting Fiorentina back on the map as a "big" club, a club that merits both national and international respect. I could talk about how it feels like we deserve this, after all the disappointment and misfortune, not just this season, but most of our history.

I could talk about all of those things, but all of that and more doesn't encompass what it would mean to Florence to see their team win a big European contest against the bianconeri. I don't think I can capture the weight of the contest any better without this whole piece turning into a truly terrible poem. So ... Importance of the match illustrated. Check. I'll let the stadium do the rest of the talking. Get excited for the coreografia folks, it's going to be amazing.


As for the respective coaches' game plans, Vincenzo Montella has tried to be opaque about his plans, while Juve coach Antonio Conte rarely varies his tactical set up. Conte is expected to chose his usual 3-5-2, with a slight defensive emergency making Martin Caceres a likely starter; other decisions include selecting one of Stephan Lichsteiner or Mauricio Isla on the right wing, as well as starting either Pablo Daniel Osvaldo or Fernando Llorente as the strike partner for Carlos Tevez, who returns from injury.

Montella is believed to be (again, no one knows) departing from the reasonably successful strategy he used in the first leg in Turin, where he sacrificed Juan Cuadrado on the wing to pack the midfield and keep the ball. Josip Ilicic and Mario Gomez are forecasted as the chosen partnership in attack, with the big German on the scoresheet again as a substitute against Chievo on Sunday. Giuseppe Rossi should be in the stands to support the team alongside Andrea Della Valle and others, and while we will give him an ovation, we'll all be wishing he were on the field for this one.

We've had an excellent Europa League campaign, and a victory here would be the perfect way for it to continue. Let's hope this isn't as stressful (or, God forbid, disappointing) as it could be... But even if it is, I am sure that this team will do Florence proud before the whole world, and I am equally sure that I will be shouting and jumping up and down. FORZA VIOLA AMICI, FORZA FIORENTINA!


Projected Lineups

FIORENTINA (3-5-1-1) Neto; Tomovic, Gonzalo, Savic; Cuadrado, Aquilani, Pizarro, Borja Valero, Vargas; Ilicic; Gomez

Juventus (3-5-2) Buffon; Caceres, Bonucci, Chiellini; Isla, Pogba, Pirlo, Vidal, Asamoah; Tevez, Llorente