3:00 PM local, 9:00 AM EST
Stadio Renzo Barbera, Palermo
2015 ended on a relative high note for the Viola, beating Chievo to ensure 3rd place after a dip in form that resulted in a bad loss to Juventus and an early Coppa Italia exit. Fiorentina traditionally struggle after breaks but the squad needed some rest and begins the year in high spirits, with morale higher than it was after an uncertain summer.
Although more challenging match ups are coming up soon, Paulo Sousa will likely use this as an opportunity to get the core players up to pace, so expect the midfield trident of Milan Badelj, Matias Vecino, and Borja Valero to start, with Nikola Kalinic back up front.
Sousa's only injury concern remains Jakub Blaszczykowski.
The Rosanero, coached at least for now by Davide Ballardini, are not having an ideal season, and ended 2015 having lost three of their last five, leaving them in 16th place and 4 points out of the relegation zone. Like Fiorentina, they crashed out of the Coppa Italia losing to Alessandria 3-2.
Luca Rigoni is off to Genoa, while they have already purchased young Venezuelan striker Manuel Arteaga from Zulia FC.Defender defender Giancarlo Gonzalez is suspended. Palemo has not been brilliant in either attack or defense this year however their strength is the combination of Argentine-Italian attacking midfielder Franco Vazquez and the still somewhat effective Alberto Gilardino, who will probably find a way to score against his ex team.
Palermo: (4-3-1-2) Sorrentino; Struna, Goldaniga, Andelkovic, Lazaar; Hiljemark, Jajalo, Chochev; Brugman; Vasquez, Trajkovski
Fiorentina: (3-4-2-1) Tatarusanu; Roncaglia, Rodriguez, Astori; Bernardeschi, Vecino, Badelj, Alonso; Borja Valero, Ilicic; Kalinic
Fiorentina should dominate this match, but I expect sloppiness as is usually the case after the winter break. My prediction is a 1-2 win for the Viola, but this is not a match to approach with overconfidence.
How to watch
TV: It looks like there will be no legitimate options available for the U.S. and U.K. To find a local TV or online broadcast, check here.
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