Time for that matchup we've all been waiting for, this time for all (okay, none) of the marbles. It's time to see Marcos Alonso dominate Luis Suarez. We've totally got this one, guys.
Barca won't trot out a top eleven. With a matchup in the Gamper Cup (yeah, no idea) against Roma looming, expect to see more of a second-choice Barcelona side. Lionel Messi, Neymar, Dani Alves, and Javier Mascherano are all out of the squad, but Barcelona hardly lack firepower in their absence, with Suarez banging in goals during the preseason.
Luis Enrique does have a bit of a problem in defense, with right back Douglas out for a couple months after picking up a knock against Chelsea. Midfielder Sergi Roberto may be thrown into the fray as the replacement fullback.
Players to watch: Luis Suarez is too obvious a "one to watch" for a hipster club like Fiorentina, so we'll go with Thomas Vermaelen and Sandro Ramirez.
Vermaelen joined Barcelona last year and hasn't really settled in. Both club and player probably want to see some good form, since the blaugrana centerbacks have been a bit iffy ever since the retirement of Carles Puyol. Going forward, 20 year old Sandro Ramirez is auditioning for a role as Pedro's replacement and has sparkled on the pitch thus far.
The one advantage Fiorentina has here is surprise, as they will be an unknown quantity to Barca. Meanwhile, as the Viola have a raft of Spaniards, especially the recently-arrived Mario Suarez, the gigliati should have a good practical acquaintance with how Barcelona will play. Oh and captain Manuel Pasqual also returns from injury and should feature at some point.
Expect to see Fiorentina employ tactics similar to those employed against PSG: Fiorentina will probably cede possession and look to strike on the break, especially against what could be a somewhat makeshift defense. Of course, "makeshift defenses" are something that Fiorentina are intimately familiar with, so maybe playing a bit more positively is not a terrible idea.
I also wouldn't be shocked to see the 4-2-3-1 tilted into a 3-5-2 as the game proceeds, which will help pack the box against Luis Suarez and company. As for team selection, the forecasted squad is a strong one. My expectation is that Paulo Sousa will pick a fairly good team, but he's shown a penchant for starting games with younger players.
Players to watch: While it's not guaranteed that he'll start, Mario Suarez has bags of experience playing against Barcelona and will be used to set the defensive tempo in midfield. And though we know that Giuseppe Rossi's inevitable cameo will be the most exciting part of the night for the viola, Federico Bernardeschi could be matched up against a guy making his first ever start at rightback; B2 could have a good time against him.
Fiorentina (4-2-3-1): Tatarusanu; Tomovic, Gonzalo Rodriguez, Basanta, Marcos Alonso; M. Suarez, Badelj; Joaquin,, Bernardeschi; Babacar
Barcelona (4-3-3): Ter Stegen; Sergi Roberto, Marc Bartra, Vermaelen, Adriano; Rakitic, Busquets, Iniesta; Munir, L. Suarez, Sandro Ramirez
Fox Sports 1, Fox Soccer 2 Go (US) Sky Sports 1 (Europe), Chelsea TV (UK only), ESPN Deportes
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. You can also follow along with us live on Twitter, and we'll have updates of the most important events on our Facebook page.