Despite being the away team, on paper Fiorentina head into this fixture as heavy favourites. A cursory glance at the league table showcases a wide gulf between the two clubs. Genoa are propping up the rankings in 17th place one spot above the relegation zone. Fiorentina in contrast are positioned near the top of the cliff face, currently residing in third position. Paolo Sousa's men will be looking to add to the momentum created by their two goal victory over Torino last Sunday. Whereas Genoa and their manager Gian Piero Gasperini will also be looking to extend their recent run of good fortune in the league. After having lost five games on the bounce, the team from the Liguarian coast are now undefeated in three. Genoa's current run of form sees them having won two and drawn one, beating both Atalanta and Palermo before drawing their last game (1-1) with bottom of the table Verona.
The last time these two teams met in the league was back in September, way back on matchday three of the season. That day the two teams played out a tense but ultimately dull affair which saw the game decided by a Khouma Babacar header. Fiorentina ended up winning an entirely forgettable game by one goal to nil. It had been a bitty game, that was not particularly hostile, nonetheless on the day referee Danieli Doveri dished out eight yellow cards, two of which in the 63rd minute corresponded to a red card brandished to Milan Badelj for the Croatian's second bookable infringement.
Despite only having ten men on the pitch for almost half an hour, the Viola clung to their one goal lead and collected all three points. On reflection, now that we are deep into the season there is one curious anomaly that jumps out from the statistics taken at the Franchi. It is to be found in the percentages of possession. Over the course of the season Fiorentina have amassed an average possession rate of 62.8%, Fiorentina dont just take possession of the ball, they tend to impound it. However in the game against Genoa it was the Grifone who led the way with 53% of possession to the Viola's (paltry) 47%. One would imagine that if given the option, Paolo Sousa would happily relinquish possession in this coming match, if it meant emerging victorious again. The three points at stake at the Marassi will be of vital importance to the manager, whose ambition for this team must be Champions League qualification.
The last six league outings between these two teams have seen Fiorentina win three and draw three. This season Fiorentina have scored a league record 15 goals in the first 30 minutes of matches, in the same period, in the opening half hour of games, only Roma (two) have conceded fewer goals than Genoa, the Rossoblu have only conceded three goals in the opening half an hour of all their league games this season. Come Sunday, if for nothing else this will make for an intriguing first half an hour.
At the time of writing only Milan Badelj is missing through injury, other than that the Viola should have a full complement at their disposal. Four Fiorentina players will hope to evade referee Piero Giacomelli's attention. Borja Valero, Facundo Roncaglia, Tino Costa and Marcos Alonso are all on four yellow cards, one away from a one game ban. Speculation is rife as to whether Paolo Sousa will opt to go with two up front as he did against Torino or whether the return of Matias Vecino will be the catalyst for a retreat back to what has been the Viola's more orthodox formation this term. A lot rests on this key decision that if implemented would result in Nikola Kalinic leading the line back on his lonesome. Marcos Alonso is also in contention to return to the side, although noises coming out of the club this week indicate that Manuel Pasqual could well start for the second game in a row. Tino Costa could also be given a full debut, starting against the club who he has played 931 minutes for this season. Perhaps Sousa will be able to utilise the Argentinian's inside knowledge, Costa having left Genoa for Fiorentina in this current transfer window.
The Fiorentina defence would do well to keep an eye out for the movement of Leonardo Pavoletti, the ex Sassuolo forward has been in goalscoring mood this season, netting 10 times in the league for Gasperini's side. The Italian forward's strikes account for a massive 42% of Genoa's total goals scored this season. Genoa will possibly be without the services of Greek midfielder Panagiotis Tachtsidis who remains an injury doubt. Only two Genoa players are hanging out on the edge of the boulevard named suspension, both Tomas Rincon and Armando Izzo are one yellow card away from a Sunday afternoon siesta. Much like the Viola, Genoa have a distinct South American flavour to their set-up. In stormy waters this season, Argentinian Cristian Ansaldi has been a resolute anchor for Gasperini's team, alongside fellow countrymen Nicolas Burdisso, Ezequial Munoz and Diego Perotti the Argentinean contingent are joined by the versatile Venezuelan Tomas Rincon as mainstays of this Genoa side. Uruguayan Diego Laxalt also adds to the gritty yet technically astute South American diaspora that has become the backbone of Gasperini's starting eleven.
Genoa line up in a 3-4-3 formation which can instantly turn into a 5-4-1 when necessary. Pavoletti spearheads the attack and is flanked by Perotti and one other, in recent games AC Milan's on loan Spaniard Suso has been the preferred option. However this transfer window has seen the Grifone bulk up their squad with the acquisition of everybody's favourite 'cat walker' Alessio Cerci. Cerci could well figure prominently in this fixture, which could end up being a good or a bad thing for Fiorentina depending on which way you lean. Since his departure from the Artemio Franchi, Cerci has failed to live up to his billing at any of the clubs he has featured for, however as we all know, ex Viola players have a special propensity for scoring against Fiorentina. With this player particularly, such is his inconsistent nature that predictions are consequently bound by limitation.
GENOA: (3-4-3) Perin, Munoz; Burdisso, Izzo; Ansaldi, Rincon; Dzemaili, Laxalt; Suso, Pavoletti; Perotti
FIORENTINA: (3-4-1-2) Tatarusanu, Roncaglia; G.Rodriguez, Astori; Bernardeschi, Vecino; Borja Valero, Pasqual; Ilicic, Kalinic; Babacar
HOW TO WATCH:
TV: Bein sports
ONLINE: Other live viewing options can be found here, and as always we will have a live match thread for discussion of the game. You can also follow along live with us on Twitter @Viola_Nation and we will have updates of the most important events on our Facebook page.