It’s time for a trip to Rome to take on Lazio, who occupy the final Europa League berth right now. In their last 10 meetings, Fiorentina are W4 D1 L5 against the Celeste. The referee for this one is Massimiliano Irrati, who’s handled a win, a draw, and a loss in his history with the Viola.
The match will be played on Sunday, 18 December 2016, at 7:45 PM CST/2:45 PM EST, at the Stadio Olympico in Rome.
The Aquile are flying high under the tutelage of new manager Simone Inzaghi, sitting in 5th place and trailing Napoli in 4th on goal difference, and just 1 point behind 3rd-placed AC Milan and a spot in the Champions League. In their last 5 matches, they’re W3 D1 L1, with the defeat coming in the derby against AS Roma.
Inzaghi will probably stick with his 4-3-3 full of attacking intent, but there have also been rumors that he’ll switch to a 3-5-2 on Sunday. The dangerman is 9-goal striker Ciro Immobile, who’s been revitalized after his unsuccessful sojourn with Borussia Dortmund, although youngsters Keita Balde and Sergej Milinkovic-Savic (who was moments from signing with Fiorentina at one point, as you may recall) have also have tallied 7 goals between them already. Winger Felipe Anderson has laid on an impressive 8 assists to go with his 2 goals.
Inzaghi will be without midfielder Andrea Parolo (suspension), although Danilo Cataldi offers little drop-off in quality or characteristics. However, his tactics will remain the same: lots of pressure and quick, direct play in attack, with a well-disciplined backline sweeping up any mistakes.
Paulo Sousa now finds his side adrift in 7th place, 5 points behind Lazio for the final Europa spot, and you’d hope that the chance to make up ground on their rivals for European qualification would bring out the best in both manager and players. However, a the recent defeat at Genoa was awfully underwhelming, and Sousa has at times this season seemed completely clueless, resulting in a torrent of rumors about his imminent departure.
After a failed experiment with a 4-3-3, he should move back to a 4-2-3-1 featuring most of his first-choice XI. Borja Valero (leg) is expected to be healthy enough to start in this one, while Nikola Kalinic, Josip Ilicic, and Cristian Tello will try to jump start a moribund attack. With Carlos Salcedo suspended for this one due to his accumulated bookings, Nenad Tomovic will return at rightback.
If Lazio try a 3-5-2, look for Fiorentina to attack down the wings, primarily against the defensively suspect Felipe Anderson on the Viola right. Valero’s return should buoy the attack tremendously as well, and Ilicic will look to find pockets of space between the defense and a midfield that occasionally strays too far forward.
How to watch
TV: If you’ve got RAI International, this would be the time to use it. If not, you’re going to be watching this one on a computer.
Online: Here is your list of safe, reliable, and legal streams.
Ted’s Memorial Blind Guess Department
I have an inexplicably good feeling about this one, as it seems the sort of match in which Sousa tends to produce a good result in the face of pressure on all sides. Therefore, I’m calling for a smash and grab 0-1 victory, with a late thunderbastard from Josip Ilicic doing the damage.