The Europa League trophy is very much at the forefront of coach Paulo Sousa's mind as he hopes to take the viola one step further than their semi-final finish last season. The return fixture on 26th November will be the first of two matches at St. Jakob-Park if Fiorentina do reach the final this time around, as the home of FC Basel has been chosen to host the final. The Swiss club, who meet Fiorentina for the first time in an UEFA club competition will make the relatively short 500KM journey to Florence for Thursday's match. The Portuguese will have little research to do on his former team, with whom he won the Swiss Super League last season. Will familiarity be the key to victory?
New Basel coach Urs Fischer thinks that the familiarity works both ways. His players; he states, know coach Sousa as well as he knows them - leveling the advantage. Forma viola player Zdravko Kuzmanović has spoken of his fondness for the Fiorentina fans, having spent two seasons in Italy but may not start for the RotBlau. Players to watch are rumoured Fiorentina transfer target Taulant Xhaka and defender Walter Samuel, who of course, has extensive Serie A experience.
Sousa should have a full squad available for selection, but has spoken of his desire to be cautious with new signing Jakub Blaszczykowski until his fitness levels have been fully assessed, following his serious injury problems of last year - although he could be keeping his cards close to his chest as the Polish winger may be handed a starting place. Giuseppe Rossi; who himself is no stranger to serious injury problems, looks likely to make the starting lineup once again in a similar formation as deployed against Genoa. Luigi Sepe taking the place of Ciprian Tătăruşanu may also become a permanent arrangement in the Europa League fixtures as Sousa's smart squad rotation takes effect.
FIORENTINA (4-3-3): Sepe; Pasqual, G. Rodriguez, Astori, Tomovic; Blaszczykowski, Badelj, Vecino; Ilicic, Kalinic, Rossi.
Basel (4-4-2): Vaclik; Lang, Suchy, Samuel, Degen; Xhaka, Bjarnason, Elneny, Callà; Embolo, Janko
TV: The game can be viewed in the US on ESPN 3 USA and in the UK on BT Sport Extra
Online: Fox Soccer 2Go (USA)
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