So, here we are again. Every year, when the fixtures are released, there’s one particular pair of fixtures that attracts the eye of every Fiorentina fan. That’s right, folks, this weekend is the first time this season that the high flying Viola will be facing off against the evil empire. It might be too easy to draw Star Wars parallels when discussing the bianconeri but, blimey, they bring it on themselves.
For the uninitiated, this is a fierce rivalry. While Juventus have a fairly acrimonious relationship with most teams nearer the top of the table, there’s a bit of previous to their dealings with Fiorentina. This isn’t a derby based on something as simple and petty as geography.
This is refereeing decisions in the 80s. This is the UEFA Cup Final. This is Baggio. Anyone who has eaten in a Florentine trattoria or taken a taxi from the airport to the city centre will have seen various versions of ‘JUVE MERDA’ splashed across any available space. And rightly so.
This Sunday, Fiorentina will travel up to Turin to take on Juve. With Roma set to play against Napoli, the teams vying for the top spots in the league are set to clash in a set of fixtures designed to make a mockery of Sky’s Premier League ‘Super Sunday’ claims. So what can we expect from either team?
Fiorentina are enjoying their best start to a campaign in a long time. A point behind Internazionale in second place, La Viola will be looking over their collective shoulders to see Napoli a point behind, closely followed by Roma and Juventus, who are four and five points back respectively. To put it simply, it’s all a bit tight at the top.
Recent troubles against Empoli seem to have been forgotten and last weekend’s hammering of Udinese has righted the ship and restored a bit of form. The game is a chance for Fiorentina to climb back to the top of the table, depending on how well Inter manage against Udinese.
Both teams have played during the week, with Fiorentina taking on Beleneses to earn second spot in their Europa League group and qualify for the knock out stages. Coach Paulo Sousa took the opportunity to rest some of the more important squad members, including Nikola Kalinic, Gonzalo Rodriguez, and Josep Illicic. Borja Valero was substituted early in the game, while the squad was lucky enough not to pick up any new injuries.
As such, it seems Sousa has a wealth of options to choose from, though Roncaglia and Błaszczykowski look set to remain on the side-lines. The team’s top scorer, Kalinic, is looking like one of the buys of the summer, while Illicic has been in fine fettle as of late. In terms of the available players, now’s as good a time as any to travel to Turin. Also, Giuseppe Rossi did this once, so he might be a good bet for a goal.
Cue Imperial March. Juventus had a terrible start to the season after shipping out the majority of their midfield and their best player. They’ve spent money, including bringing former Fiorentina man Juan Cuadrado back from his torrid time under the tutelage of relegation-battling Jose Mourinho. Elsewhere, Paulo Dybala has been starting to find some of his Palermo form, while the gangly elbow-fest that is Mario Mandžukić has chipped in with a few goals. After Claudio Marchisio’s early season injury, the centre of the park is almost back to functioning and Juve have accordingly begun an ominous ascent back up the table.
Like Fiorentina, Juve played midweek, losing unexpectedly against Sevilla and resigning themselves to second place in the group. They’ve had an extra two days of rest, though didn’t rest quite as many players as La Viola. Nevertheless, Max Allegri has the majority of his squad available and a number of tactical options available. Both teams in the fixture have switched back and forth between a back three and back four, so predicting the formations can be something of a challenge. One player who can certainly cause damage regardless of the line ups is Paul Pogba. Still only 22, Paul is inevitably going to do something pretty decent, so someone will have to sit on him all game. Probably Vecino or Badelj. They have total permission to take turns kicking him, living out the vicarious dreams of every Fiorentina fan watching from home.
Even if Juventus started the season poorly, you’d be mad to write them off at this stage. Sunday’s match, then, should be something of a slugfest. Neither team will define their season here, but all the points add up and no team will want to lose. Especially in this game.
Expect some needle.
Fiorentina (3-4-2-1): Tatarusanu; Tomovic, Gonzalo, Astori; Bernardeschi, Badelj, Vecino, Alonso; Ilicic, Valero; Kalinic
Juventus XI (3-5-2): Buffon; Barzagli, Bonucci, Chiellini; Lichtsteiner, Sturaro, Marchisio, Pogba, Alex Sandro; Morata, Dybala
How to watch
In Italy, this one will be on Sky Sport. For Uk-based fans, BTSport should have you covered, while Americans can tune in to RAI international. For anyone else, you can find a full set of listings by country here. Please don't post illegal streams in the comments, or else we'll have to delete them and ban you quicker than the FIGC banned Luciano Moggi. You can, however, feel free to follow us on Twitter for match coverage, follow the match thread on this here site, or even check out our Facebook page.
Shameless homer prediction
Juventus 0 – 4 Fiorentina. Juve liquidated as a club.