We have all been eagerly anticipating this fixture was announced early in the summer, and now the day has finally arrived. Fiorentina will test their metal against one of the megaclubs in world football as a final tune up for the Serie A season. The team arrived in Poland yesterday for training and press conferences, and Vincenzo Montella took the mic to confirm the idea that Juan Cuadrado and Facundo Roncaglia were excluded because the idea was to shape the team that would play in the opening match versus Roma. Whether you believe that or not, neither will take part in the match today; nor will Giuseppe Rossi, who has a minor thigh strain that will be tested today. Pepito will likely be fit to play in the first Serie A game in two weeks time.
Montella has elected to pair Khouma Babacar and Mario Gomez upfront for their final friendly, with Juan Vargas slotting into midfield to allow Borja Valero to roam as a trequartista against the club he spent his youth with. Norberto Neto starts in goal. Nenad Tomovic is the Fiorentina player entrusted with containing Cristiano Ronaldo on the Viola right hand side, while Polish youth international Rafal Wolski starts from the bench.
Real Madrid arrives fresh from Champions League and UEFA Supercup conquests, as well as the signings of World Cup star James Rodriguez and World Cup winner Toni Kroos. MiQ got a chance to get the inside scoop on the opposition, but the basics are clear: while Carlo Ancelotti named a strong squad to bring to Poland, the focus of Los Merengues is on the Spanish Supercup and the beginning of the season. Another World Cup hero - Keylor Navas - makes his debut in goal as Ancelotti has decided to favor a Barca-like midfield-heavy formation without a true striker. All the same, a front three of Angel Di Maria, Cristiano Ronaldo, and James Rodriguez bring plenty of goals to the party.
These two clubs have faced each other only once of note, in the 1957 European Cup Final in Madrid. While this match is a lower stakes affair, it will hopefully be a similar spectacle.
<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"><p>57 years later... Real Madrid v Fiorentina, 1957 European Cup Final: <a href="http://t.co/qMJtgZh3Wk">http://t.co/qMJtgZh3Wk</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/forzaviola?src=hash">#forzaviola</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/gameday?src=hash">#gameday</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/RealMadrid?src=hash">#RealMadrid</a></p>— Viola Nation (@Viola_Nation) <a href="https://twitter.com/Viola_Nation/statuses/500682244844183552">August 16, 2014</a></blockquote>
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Here are the full lineups:
FIORENTINA: (4-3-1-2): Neto; Tomovic, Gonzalo, Savic, Alonso; Aquilani, Pizarro, Vargas; B. Valero; Babacar, Gomez
Real Madrid (4-3-3): Navas; Arbeloa, Nacho, Varane, Marcelo; Khedira, Xabi Alonso, Illarra; Di Maria, Cristiano Ronaldo, J. Rodriguez