To say that Vincenzo Montella has a bad record against his former club would be an understatement. But in that, he joins Fiorentina as a whole in recent memory. Fiorentina have lost 6 of their last 8 against the giallorossi, losing the last four in a row. If I were to scratch around for some contrasting, more optimistic statistics, Fiorentina do have a slight historical edge at home, where they are 8-6-5 according to soccerpunter.com. But the facts remain: la Viola have beaten Roma only 3 times in the past decade. Not so great.
This is annoying because, yes, we don't like losing, but also because Roma is one of the more annoying clubs to lose to. Not nearly as annoying as Juventus or Milan, to be fair. But still pretty annoying. This Sunday night showcase game be an excellent opportunity for Fiorentina to buck the trend and bolster their chances of claiming that precious 3rd spot in Serie A.
The timing could be worse. Fiorentina have won 3 matches in a row in all competitions and are expressing themselves with a quiet confidence, while Roma have drawn 4 of their last 5 (yes I'm counting the Coppa Italia game) and are averaging only about a goal a game in that stretch. Adem Ljajic is set to start against his former team, and is the top scorer for Roma this term, but Junior Vice Admiral Nutella Boy™ hasn't netted for Rudi Garcia since early December, and the 23 year old Serb will be unlikely to receive a warm welcome in Florence. And into the mix a bit of uncertainty over the consistency of Daniele De Rossi in midfield, a downturn in Miralem Pjanic's form, and a chopped and changed defense, la Viola should definitely make this an even contest.
As far as the Vincenzo Montella side of the chess board, it appears as though everything is set for a return to the 3-5-2 after the Wednesday deviation in the Coppa Italia that featured an eye-catching Micah Richards. Nenad Tomovic will slot into the back 3 in the absence of still-suspended Stefan Savic, while club captain Manuel Pasqual will take up his duties on the left. Mario Gomez is expected to be given confidence after his two goal haul in the midweek fixture, although both Khouma Babacar and Alessandro Diamanti will be revving their engines on the sidelines should something be misfiring in attack. Hopefully the recently displayed form of Joaquin, Matias Fernandez, and Borja Valero will carry through this huge home match.
All in all this would should be an electric atmosphere as always at the stadium. Let's just hope that this time we can be buzzing after the game, instead of just before it. In the meantime, please fill the comments with alternate trademark-able nicknames for the Inimitable King of the ChocoSpread™, Adem Ljajic.
FIORENTINA (3-5-2): TATARUSANU; TOMOVIC, GONZALO, BASANTA; JOAQUIN, MATI, PIZARRO, BORJA, PASQUAL; CUADRADO, GOMEZ
Roma (4-3-3): De Sanctis; Florenzi, Yanga Mbiwa, Manolas, Holebas; Pjanic, De Rossi, Strootman; Iturbe, Totti, Ljajic