Somehow, at the ripe age of 37, ex-Viola Luca Toni will again start a Serie A match at the Artemio Franchi. But, as has been the case since the fall of 2013, the former World Cup winner will be wearing the colors of Hellas Verona. Big Luca has had a remarkable renaissance sine moving to Andrea Mandolini's Verona, recording 20 goals last season, and already notching 15 this campaign.
Although the Viola will be very aware of the danger Toni poses, thankfully the big Italian's continued attacking prowess hasn't yet significantly hurt Fiorentina, who have won all their meetings against Verona since their return to Serie A. Verona are struggling in the league this year as well, and in the middle of their most difficult set of fixtures, where they have only won 1 of their last 5. In the first meeting between these teams this season, it was Juan Cuadrado to decide things at the Bentegodi, but with the Colombian now a part of Jose Mourinho's Premier League topping Chelsea, so the Viola will have to find other solutions for Monday.
Monday, April 20th, 2015
Kickoff at 20:45 local
Vincenzo Montella will change things considerably after the last gasp draw in Kyiv on Thursday, with Micah Richards and Manuel Pasqual expected to return to the starting lineup, along with Alberto Aquilani. The attack is expected to change over completely, with man-of-the-hour Khouma Babacar replacing Mario Gomez; Alessandro Diamanti and Josip Ilicic are expected to flank him to give a rest to Joaquin and Mohammed Salah. Ciprian Tatarusanu and Federico Bernardeschi are both expected to return to the squad from injury, but neither are expected to play. Hellas Verona are expected to start a full strength team, including Mexico's veteran defender Rafa Marquez in the center of defense.
As he has done for most of the spring, Montella appears to be heavily prioritizing the cup with his rotation, although he wouldn't say as much to the media. "It's important for us to finish the season well... With a victory we could move up a spot in the table," said the Italian manager ahead of the match. Indeed, with Lazio, Roma, and Sampdoria dropping points this weekend, a win could give Fiorentina something to play for in the final month of the campaign. Forza viola, let's hope for an emphatic home win!
FIORENTINA (4-3-3): Neto; Richards, Gonzalo, Basanta, Pasqual; Aquilani, Badelj, Borja Valero; Diamanti, Babacar, Ilicic
Verona (4-3-3): Benussi; Sala, Marquez, Moras, Pisano; Obbadi, Tachtsidis, Greco; J. Gomez, Toni, Jankovic