After the conclusion of yet another humdrum international break, those Viola fans pining for club football to resume will get their fix this Sunday as Fiorentina take on Atalanta in the early kick off. Atalanta travel to Florence in decent form, Gian Piero Gasperini's team will be looking for their third consecutive victory in the league, a feat they have not achieved since March 2014.
Off the back of a 1-0 home victory against Napoli in their last outing, confidence will be high in the visitors' dressing room. Fiorentina will have to be watchful that they are not added to the Bergamo outfit's list of scalps which this season already includes both Torino and Napoli.
It is fair to say Fiorentina's own start to the season has been rather less than auspicious. Paulo Sousa's team have not won a game in their last three league matches and thus will be eager to remedy their poor run of form in front of their home fans. In recent times this fixture has been very generous to Fiorentina, the Viola having beaten Atalanta in every one of their last nine encounters. Fundamentally it would be a mistake to look beyond their opponents on Sunday, however Paulo Sousa will be all too aware that this particular match will be the first in a run of six fixtures that the team should be looking to recoup maximum points from.
At the time of writing the only doubt in the Viola squad is Josip Ilicic. Returning from international duty with Slovenia, reports suggest the Viola no.72 could be rested due to a muscular problem in his lower leg. Ilicic scored in Fiorentina's last two games against Atalanta at the Franchi. Speculation is rife around Florence that Sousa will opt to take the risk by including the virtuoso midfielder within his starting eleven. Elsewhere in the team forecasters are anticipating more of the same from Sousa. The expectation from those close to the Portuguese manager suggest that the team will line up in what is now a very familiar 3-4-2-1 formation, with no deviation from what can be considered Sousa's tried and tested (if not always successful) formula. The back three will most likely comprise Nenad Tomovic, Gonzalo Rodriguez and Davide Astori. The midfield bank of four may well see Matias Vecino step in for Carlos Sanchez, but otherwise will remain the same, with Milan Badelj lining up centrally alongside one of the two South Americans, while Federico Bernardeschi and Hrvoje Milic line up on the right and left flanks respectively. Borja Valero and Ilicic will be positioned in the more advanced roles supporting the lone striker. Nikola Kalinic is favourite to keep his place at the tip of Sousa's formation, although question marks over his recent form have some suspecting that either Khouma Babacar or Mauro Zarate could replace the Croatian in the starting eleven.
Atalanta's only confirmed absentee is Emanuele Suagher who is ruled out due to a knee injury. There is some doubt surrounding the fitness of Abdoulay Konko, though Konko, who has been out with a hamstring injury, could well make his return in this game. Other than that Atalanta will be in good health and will be keen to impress in a 3-5-2 formation. Fiorentina should be well aware of the threat of Andrea Petagna up front, the forward having already netted three times for Atalanta this season. In the spine of Gasperini's midfield 19-year-old Ivorian Franck Kessie is the one to watch. Despite the fact that he is principally billed as a defensive midfielder, Atalanta's five man midfield allows Kessie to roam into more advanced positions. It would be fair to say that this is a player whose natural position has not yet been discovered. Kessie's dynamic running style and powerful shot combined with deft technical ability have naturally led to comparisons with his fellow countryman Yaya Toure. The Atalanta youngster's start to the season has been nothing short of sensational. In six action packed league games Kessie has scored four times, provided one assist as well as earning a red card for good measure, the midfielder also scored in Atalanta's third round Coppa Italia victory over Cremonese. Ex Fiorentina midfielder Jasmin Kurtic should also get a game, after not overly impressing while at Fiorentina, as is always the case in these situations the Slovenian will no doubt be motivated to get one over on his former employer.
Fiorentina (3-4-2-1) Tatarusanu; Tomovic, Astori; Rodriguez, Badelj; Vecino, Bernardeschi; Milic, Valero; Ilicic, Kalinic
Atalanta (3-5-2) Sportiello; Masiello, Toloi; Zukanovic, D'Alessandro; Kessie, Freuler; Kurtic, Drame; Petagna, Gomez
How To Watch:
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