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Fiorentina vs. Belenenses: Preview and scenarios

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Both teams need a win to continue their European campaigns, and both are hoping for a little help from Poland.

Grand old flag.
Grand old flag.
Gabriele Maltinti/Getty Images
Fiorentina vs. Belenenses:Thursday, 10 December 2015 9:05 PM CET, 3:05 PM EST Stadio Artemio FranchiFlorence, Italy

Last time these teams met, Fiorentina strolled away with a 0-4 win in Lisbon. A similar result would sure be swell. This does feel like a trap game, though, the kind that one might expect to be an easy win that instead turns ugly and gross and tragic. The ref for this one is Russian Vladislav Bezborodov.

Standings and scenarios

Team Points Goal difference
1 Basel 10 +4
2 Fiorentina 7 +4
3 Lech Poznań 5 -3
4 Belenenses 5 -5

Fiorentina have a chance to win the group, but they'll need to beat Belenenses and then have Lech Poznań beat Basel. As the Poles are at home and also need a win to advance, they'll certainly give it their best. A draw should also see Fiorentina through in second place (barring a 9 goal win for Lech). Of course, a Basel win or draw means that Fiorentina just need a draw to advance. A loss to Belenenenses would eliminate la Viola outright. With Basel the only team assured of qualifying, this is one of the most volatile groups in the tournament.

Fiorentina

The club has regained momentum after a brief slowdown, hammering Udinese to move to second place in Serie A. Getting Manchester United-ed out of Europe, though, would be a tremendous letdown, especially going into the transfer window. Daniele Pradè would obviously rather sell prospective players on a club that's competing on every front, and the money that the competition brings in is nothing to sneeze at either.

With another massive match against Juventus looming, Paulo Sousa will probably rotate his squad a bit. Facundo Roncaglia (being Facundo) and Jakub Błaszczykowski (knee) are both unavailable, but the rest of the squad is ready to go. Fiorentina will probably press for an early goal or two to put them through, then try to control the match.

Belenenses

The Lisbon-based club has improved slightly since the last meeting, clawing into 13th place, although they remain just 4 points clear of the relegation zone. In their last five, they're W1 D1 L3, scoring 4 goals and allowing 8. While not mathematically eliminated, they need a win and a Basel win or draw to qualify. Depending on the early action in the match, they may opt to save themselves for their game against second-bottom Coimbra on Monday.

Manager Sá Pinto (who's a former international colleague of a certain stylish Portuguese manager who works in Florence) has switched between 4-2-3-1 and 4-3-3 this season. The latter seems to be his big game formation, but he may opt for the former since he does need a win. The only injury concern he has is center back Palmeira, who's been out all year. The dangermen are the strikers: Luis Leal and Tiago Caeiro, who've both got 3 goals this year; the former is fast and clever in the area, while the latter is more of a target man. Veteran playmaker Carlos Martins has also netted 3 goals and is a dead ball threat. Belenenses will probably defend deep and look to score on the counter (they've got some typically tricky Portuguese wingers) or through free kicks, conceding to possession and midfield in favor of a deep block.

Predicted lineups

Fiorentina (3-4-2-1): Sepe; Tomovic, Gonzalo, Astori; Rebic, Vecino, Suárez, Alonso; Fernández, Valero; Babacar

Belenenses (4-2-3-1): Ventura; Geraldes, Gonçalo Brandão, Tonel, Ferreira; Pinto, Sousa; Kuca, Martins, Fábio Sturgeon; Leal

Shameless prediction

3-1 for Fiorentina, with goals from Babacar, Rebic, and Rossi off the bench. And please please please let Lech Poznań beat Basel.

How to watch

TV: Looks like the telly's showing Champions League instead. Harumph.

Online: Other live viewing options can be found here, and as always, we'll have a match thread live here for discussion of the game at hand. If you post illegal streams in the comments, Babacar will block you on Instagram. Also, we'll delete the streams and ban you if you do it again. You can also follow along with us live on Twitter, and we'll have updates of the most important events on our Facebook page.