It's been a wild season, and one - it must be said - with ample misfortune and disappointment, but the final game of the 2013-2014 season will be greeted with the enthusiasm the team deserves in Florence, with the home fans more inclined to celebrate the many highs than the moments la Viola fell short. Fiorentina will again be playing European football after a second straight fourth place finish, and will be hopeful that with a bit of tweaking in the offseason and better health this side can shoot for even more next year.
But, to set aside reflections on the season that is nearly behind us - we at Viola Nation will be bringing you much of that in the coming weeks - there is still one more chance for us to cheer on our team, and the occasion looks to be a very good one.
Vincenzo Montella - who on Saturday batted away rumors of him exploring options outside of Florence after speaking of summer reinforcements - is seeing his side return to full fitness at the very close of the season. Mario Gomez has returned to full training with the team and has a slim chance of starting, while Giuseppe Rossi might enter the starting lineup after consecutive positive second-half cameos. Rossi, with Alberto Aquilani and Manuel Pasqual, remains hopeful of traveling with the Italian National Team to the World Cup in Brazil this summer, while Gomez was recently disappointed to learn that he would not be a part of Germany's campaign. The "forgotten" long-term injury of the season is also fully fit and may appear on Sunday; Ahmed Hegazi, Egyptian national team defender and one of our roster's most interesting prospects, may make his first appearance since last season.
In terms of team shape, Montella may favor a 4-3-1-2 lineup heavy on creativity, with Juan Cuadrado partnering Pepito Rossi in attack with Borja Valero as trequartista (sounds like a fun way to finish the year). The defense should is healthy and without suspensions, so Gonzalo Rodriguez will anchor the line, with question marks in the fullback positions. David Pizarro, Matias Fernandez, and Aquilani are expected to make up the midfield.
As far as Torino are concerned, after failing to beat Parma last weekend, this match has suddenly become their biggest in years. A victory sends them clear into the Europa League next season, a return to Europe for a storied club with a long and rich friendship with Fiorentina. Coach Giampiero Ventura has really done an exceptional job molding a team that is very able both in defense and attack with very limited funds, and a European berth seems a just reward for the fantastic season the granata are having. Serie A capocannoniere Ciro Immobile has been the star performer for Torino, but will miss this match due to suspension and there are strong rumors about that the 24 year old is off to Borussia Dortmund in the summer for a sizable fee. Ex-volatile-Viola Alessio Cerci is his usual partner in attack, and the creative weight now falls on his shoulders.
I expect a wide-open game, with Torino eager to win and Fiorentina looking to enjoy themselves, with two great sets of fans very vocally enjoying the occasion (gigantic numbers of Torino fans are expected to arrive for the sold-out game). Cerci will cause problems when he drifts left, while Cuadrado will look to make the difference and create space against a usually orderly team.
It's been an absolute pleasure writing your match previews this season folks. To an even better season in the fall! SEMPRE FORZA VIOLA!
FIORENTINA (4-3-1-2) Neto; Roncaglia, Gonzalo Rodriguez, Savic, Pasqual; Aquilani, Pizarro, M. Fernandez; Borja Valero; Rossi, Cuadrado
Torino (3-5-2) Padelli; Glik, Rodriguez, Moretti; Maksimovic, Kurtic, Vives, El Kaddouri, Darmian; Cerci, Meggiorini