Serie A comes storming back this midweek with a round of midweek matches, and that means our beloved Fiorentina will look to begin a charge towards the European spots by shrugging off the January woes of the past two seasons. January is easily Vincenzo Montella's worst month (in terms of points per game) since taking charge of la Viola, but this is as friendly a fixture as one could wish for the beginning of a new year. Fiorentina have been excellent on the road this season having won all of their last four, while Parma are winless since defeating Inter 2-0 at home back on November 1st. Roberto Donadoni has held onto his job thanks to improved performances in recent matches, but there remains a quiet panic in "casa Gialloblu."
All the same, here are 3 things that should keep us all a bit nervous before this one: 1) Fiorentina never make things easy 2) Fiorentina hasn't won in their last 6 tries at the Stadio Ennio Tardini di Parma, last getting 3 points in 2007. And finally 3) Antonio Cassano will be well rested, really loves scoring against us, and hasn't found the net in the last two matches against Fiorentina.
So, now that we are all nice and relaxed…
Vincenzo Montella only appears to have one serious personnel doubt about the lineup against the bottom side in Serie A, and that's in goal. L'aeroplanino is expected to start Ciprian Tatarusanu after Neto's declared intention to leave, either now or in the summer for free, but the coach could still persevere with what has been the team's number one all season; Neto was apparently the "starter" in training on Monday. Borja Valero drops out of the side due to yellow card accumulation, while Alberto Aquilani is unlikely to start due to a minor injury. Jasmin Kurtic will almost definitely start, with David Pizarro and the high-flying Matias Fernandez completing the midfield three. The defense should remain unchanged, although Manuel Pasqual may challenge Marcos Alonso for a starting spot on Tuesday. Juan Cuadrado is expected to once again partner Mario Gomez in attack.
As far as Roberto Donadoni's men, he has recovered some important pieces all across the pitch, but will still be without tricky winger Jonathan Biabiany and striker Ishak Belfodil. Gabriel Paletta should be back in form after looking very rusty in his return from lengthy injury, and will maybe improve the Parma defense. Donadoni is expected to favor a 3-5-2 to host Fiorentina, mirroring Montella but opting for a more "solid" version. "We'll need players with energy to burn" said Donadoni in his pre-match press conference.
Hopefully Fiorentina will look the fresher side and continue their imperious away form. A win keeps us 3 points off of 3rd place Lazio. It's all there to play for. Forza Viola!
Parma (3-5-2): Mirante; Costa, Paletta, Lucarelli; Rispoli, J. Mauri, Lodi, Gobbi, De Ceglie; Cassano, Palladino
FIORENTINA (3-5-2): Tatarusanu; Savic, Gonzalo, Basanta; Joaquin, Mati, Pizarro, Kurtic, Alonso; Cuadrado, Gomez