Fiorentina is once again riding high after a much needed Europa League victory in Poland on Thursday, and are back in first place in Serie A after thrashing relegation fodder Hellas Verona and Frosinone.
Sampdoria represents the biggest challenge since the unfortunate loss against Roma. Walter Zenga's side remains unbeaten at Stadio Luigi Ferraris this year, although the ninth place side is suffering a few key injuries right now. Nevertheless, this will be a challenge if Fiorentina is to remain in first place
Under Walter Zenga, the Blucerchiati have not overachieved the way they did under Sinisa Mihajlovic, but the ninth place club is one of the stronger of the middle tier Serie A clubs this year. Their attack has been more effective than their defense - with 19 goals scored, only Roma, Fiorentina, and Napli have done better, but they have also conceded 15 and have had only one clean sheet all season.
This doesn't tell the whole story however, as Sampdoria have only scored 4 goals on the road, but are a different beast at home, where they are undefeated with 4 wins and 2 draws. At home they have scored 15 goals (tied with Roma for league best).
Their recent form has been a problem however, with only one win in their last five games. Andrea Coda, Lazaros Christodoulopoulos and Nenad Krsticic are all missing due to injury, a factor Fiorentina will have to exploit.
The Blucerchiati's biggest threat is the striker duo of Colombian international Luis Muriel and Brazilian born, Italian international Eder, the latter being the current Serie A top scorer with 9 goals so far. They will also likely be starting three former Fiorentina players, fullbacks Mattia Cassani and Lorenzo De Silvestri, and of course Emiliano Viviano. Infamous Fiorentina killer Antonio Cassano will likely be a late game substitute at most.
Fiorentina is coming off three convincing wins against less than exceptional competition, and this will be the defense's biggest challenge since Roma. Marcos Alonso is available after recovering from injury.
Unlike Sampdoria, Fiorentina has almost the entire squad available with the exception of the suspended Ante Rebic. Odds are the trio of Facundo Roncaglia, Gonzalo Rodriguez and Davide Astori will make up the back line as Paulo Sousa will likely make his typical shifts between 3-4-2-1 and 4-3-2-1.
After a fantastic Europa League performance, it is likely Josip Ilcic will join Nikola Kalinic up front, and while the pairing is less prolific than the Muriel and Eder duo for Sampdoria, they have the skill to combine with Borja Valero in midfield to exploit Sampdoria's shaky defense.
Sampdoria:(4-3-3) Viviano; Cassani, Silvestre, Zukanobic, Mesbah; Carbonero, Fernando, Barreto; Ivan, L.Muriel, Eder
FIORENTINA: (3-4-3) Tatarusanu; Roncaglia, Rodriguez, Astori; Alonso, Vecino, Badelj, Blaszczykowski; Valero, Ilicic; Kalinic
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