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Match Preview: Bologna vs. Fiorentina

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The last Fiorentina league match before a much-anticipated Coppa Italia Final could be a doozy, with Bologna battling to avoid relegation in the second Derby dell'Appennino of the season.

Photo
Photo
Gabriele Maltinti

Fiorentina have been boosted by many good pieces of news in midweek after a disappointing defeat at home against Roma last weekend, with Giuseppe Rossi returning to full training with the team and being ruled healthy for the World Cup, as well as Vincenzo Montella very forcefully reiterating his desire to stay in Florence after being linked to the Milan job. He said on Rai Sport yesterday that he will "absolutely 100% stay with Fiorentina next season." But these positive psychological factors are unlikely to see the Florentines as desperate to win as their opponents and neighbors, since Montella's team are traveling to face a Bologna side who can lift themselves (temporarily) out of the relegation places with just a single point. Fiorentina's players may be tempted to look ahead to their chance of silverware in the Coppa Italia Final against Napoli next weekend rather than focus on the murkier mission of "securing fourth place." Today the club will even be announcing the special jersey the team will wear in the Final (below), which serves as a handy illustration of the distractions flying around.

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"><p>Un&#39;assaggio&#39;della maglia che indosseremo per la Finale <a href="https://twitter.com/search?q=%23TimCup&amp;src=hash">#TimCup</a> Domani la presentazione alla stampa <a href="https://twitter.com/search?q=%23FiorentinaNapoli&amp;src=hash">#FiorentinaNapoli</a> <a href="http://t.co/P77oVlQM3S">pic.twitter.com/P77oVlQM3S</a></p>&mdash; ACF Fiorentina (@ACF_Fiorentina) <a href="https://twitter.com/ACF_Fiorentina/statuses/459335539364462592">April 24, 2014</a></blockquote>

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Add into the mix that la Viola haven't had much joy of late in the derby games played at the beautiful Stadio Dall'Ara (last winning in February 2009), and this match doesn't look like your usual 4th versus 18th matchup; Bologna will smell an upset.

This is not to say it will be easy for Bologna coach Davide Ballardini and his players to net a result. They have had two impressive draws against Parma and Inter in the past month, but they haven't won since beating Cagliari at the end of March. Ballardini has done what he can so far with a beyond-underwhelming talent pool, and will likely continue with his very solid 3-5-1-1. Bologna will be without captain Diego Perez, and will likely start journeyman attacker Robert Acquafresca (who is somehow only 26?!?!) as their striker. Most of Bologna's goal-scoring threat is carried by Greek international Panagiotis Kone since the January transfer to China of Tuscan native Alessandro Diamanti.

Montella is expected to continue with the system he has used the past couple match days with mixed results, a 4-3-1-2 of sorts, with two wingers ahead of a trequartista. Joaquin is expected to make his return to the starting lineup for Ryder Matos, with Juan Cuadrado operating as the other striker ahead of Josip Ilicic. Fiorentina are expected to otherwise field their first-choice eleven, with the potential exception of Vargas playing left back ahead of Manuel Pasqual. Expect Rossi to make the bench and appear as a late substitute.

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I rarely express my opinions on projected tactics in a match preview, but continuing with the 4-3-1-2 would be a bit of an odd decision by Montella since the set-up appears very reliant on Cuadrado, and the Vespa will miss the Coppa Italia Final due to suspension. Wouldn't the coach want to try the system that we will use against Napoli? We'll see what ends up happening on Saturday. Let's hope for a morale-boosting 3 points, a return to competitive play for our Pepito Rossi, maybe a repeat of that elegant Borja Valero goal, and finally doing the double on our saucy neighbors! Forza Viola!

Projected Lineups

Bologna (3-5-1-1) Curci; Antonsson, Natali, Cherubin; Garics, Khrhin, Pazienza, Christodoulopoulos, Morleo; Kone; Acquafresca

FIORENTINA (4-3-1-2) Neto; Tomovic, Gonzalo, Savic, Vargas; Aquilani, Pizarro, Borja Valero; Ilicic; Cuadrado, Joaquin