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Atalanta vs Fiorentina: Preview

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With la Viola hanging onto third by their teeth, a tilt against la Dea could prove pivotal, as it will give the team a chance to try out some alternative tactics as well as widen the gap between themselves and and their pursuers.

You know it's time to get serious when Borja gets the Michael Jordan tongue going.
You know it's time to get serious when Borja gets the Michael Jordan tongue going.
Gabriele Maltinti/Getty Images
Atalanta vs. FiorentinaSunday, 21 February 2016 3:00 PM CET, 9:00 AM ET Stadio Atleti Azzurri d'ItaliaBergamo, Italy

Following an energetic, albeit clumsy, Europa League fixture against Tottenham Hotspur, Fiorentina gets back the domestic campaign by hosting Atalanta, whom they hammered 0-3 in Bergamo back in October to go top of the table. Fresh off an emotional win over Inter Milan and with a trip to White Hart Lane looming, this is exactly the sort of match that we're used to seeing Fiorentina stumble and faceplant on, so razor-sharp focus is a must.

Atalanta

Atalanta are looking their usual, steadily mid-table selves this year, as per usual. The Bergamo outfit, under the astute direction of Edy Reja, are pretty much assured of remaining in Serie A, albeit well outside the European places. They've actually hit a slightly rough patch of late, gathering just 4 points in their last 5 matches, in which they've scored just 2 goals and have played 3 scoreless draws. However, the inability to beat 19th-placed Frosinone and a loss to last-place Hellas Verona may have la Dea a bit antsy for points.

They'll have to make do without pesky midfielder Carlos Carmona (hip), but Reja otherwise has a full squad to deploy in his usual 4-3-3. Considering that every player on the roster has either played for or been linked to Fiorentina in the past (seriously, Jasmin Kurtić and Alessandro Diamanti are former Viola, and Andrea Conti, Luca Cigarini, Alenadro Gómez were all supposedly close to moves this winter). The main dangerman is the aforementioned Papu Gomez, a pacy and tricky winger who'll start wide before coming inside; he's got 5 goals and 4 assists this term. Mauricio Pinilla and German Denis are tied with second in the squad with 4 goals each.

Fiorentina

La Viola are somewhat miraculously hanging onto a Champions League place, and it's fixtures like this that are the key to keeping one. Seeing how Paulo Sousa sets out for this one in terms of personnel and tactics (particularly in how high he sits his defensive block and how high up the pitch he orders the pressing to begin) should be a good indicator of how seriously he's taking the Europa League.

There's another question mark in Sousa's approach, and that's what formation he'll use. The 4-2-3-1 was moderately successful against Inter, and Sousa may be inclined to roll it out again. Expect to see Facundo Roncaglia, who's still banned from the Europa League. Mauro Zárate and Marcos Alonso are suspended, and Milan Badelj may be held out for a bit longer to make sure he's fully recovered and fit to play 90 minutes. Khouma Babacar is likely to start on the bench again in favor of Nikola Kalinić, although he should make a substitute appearance at the least.

Probable lineups

Atalanta (4-3-3): Sportiello; Conti, Paletta, Toloi, Dramé; Cigarini, de Roon, Kurtić; Diamanti, Pinilla, Gómez

Fiorentina (4-2-3-1): Tătăruşanu; Roncaglia, Gonzalo, Astori, Pasqual; Valero, Vecino; Bernardeschi, Iličić, Tello; Kalinić

How to watch

TV: If you're not in Italy, you're probably not watching this one on TV.

Online:

Other live viewing options can be found here (links to illegal streams in the comments will be removed and repeat offenders banned), and as always, you can also follow along with us live on Twitter. If you haven't already, join the community on Viola Nation, and join in the discussion below.

">here (links to illegal streams in the comments will be removed and repeat offenders banned), and as always, you can also follow along with us live on Twitter. If you haven't already, join the community on Viola Nation, and join in the discussion below.

Shameless score prediction

Given Atalanta's difficulty in finding the back of the net, I'm saying it'll be 0-2 to the visitors, with goals from Cristian Tello and Khouma Babacar.