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Fiorentina vs Sassuolo: Preview

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Can the Viola pull themselves out of their tailspin facing the high-flying Modena club ? We really, really hope so.

GONZALO SMASH
GONZALO SMASH
Marco Luzzani/Getty Images
Fiorentina vs. SassuoloSaturday, 17 April 2016 3 PM local, 7 AM ET Stadio Artemio FranchiFlorence, Italy

Last time Fiorentina and Sassuolo met, it was a 1-1 draw, with goals from Borja Valero and Sergio Floccari. The Viola certainly had the better of the game, but couldn't quite put the finishing touches on what should have been an away win. Over their last 5 matches, Fiorentina are W2 D2 L1, with 8 goals scored and 6 conceded. The ref for this one is Luca Banti. In the last 10 matches he's handled, Fiorentina are W3 D3 L4.

Fiorentina

As you may have noticed at some point over the past two months, Fiorentina are riding the struggle bus. While a good deal of the blame falls on the management for providing inadequate squad depth, Paulo Sousa has been unable to inspire any incision in the attack, even with preferred starting XI intact. Basically, there's blame enough to go around for everyone here.

Sousa has players absent in defense, midfield and attack. Davide Astori (suspended), Matías Fernández (hip), and Khouma Babacar (hip) are all out, so Nenad Tomović should return to the starting lineup. Midfield and attack are less certain; Borja could drop deep to provide extra guile, with Josip Iličić as the playmaker, or could move higher with Milan Badelj or Tino Costa coming into the side. Up top, it's either Mauro Zárate or a dreadfully out of form Nikola Kalinić. Valero and Manuel Pasqual are both a yellow card away from a suspension.

Sassuolo

Eusebio di Francesco has the Neroverdi flying high, all the way in 7th, just a point behind AC Milan and 3 points ahead of Lazio. Over their past 5 matches, they're W2 D1 L2, with 6 goals scored and 4 conceded. He's done this with a fairly simple tactical system based around three pacey attackers, a very functional midfield, and a defense that likes to sit deep before launching quick counters through the front three. Basically, it's everything that's been giving Fiorentina all kinds of merry hell for the past half decade or so.

He does have a bunch of injury issues, though. Centerbacks Luca Antei (hamstring) and Emanuele Terranova (unknown), rightback Marcelo Gazzola (unknown), and midfielders Simone Missiroli (hamstring) and Karim Laribi (unknown). With the exception of Missiroli, none of these are regular starters, so di Francesco can name a strong squad. Domenico Berardi (6 goals, 4 assists) and Nicola Sansone (6 goals, 5 assists) are both fast and direct on the wings, happy to cut in and let fly. Up top, it's either the quick Grégoire Defrel (7 goals, 4 assists) or lanky poacher Diego Falcinelli.

Projected lineups

Fiorentina (4-2-3-1): Tătăruşanu; Roncaglia, Gonzalo, Tomović, Alonso; Vecino, Valero; Bernardeschi, Iličić, Tello; Zárate

Sassuolo (4-3-3): Consigli; Vrsaljko, Acerbi, Cannavaro, Peluso; Duncan, Magnanelli, Biondini; Berardi, Defrel, Sansone

How to watch

TV: If you're in Italy, check Sky Sports. Elsewhere, BeIn may have it, but it looks like we're probably out of luck.

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.

Blind guess department

Let's be honest here. There's now way that Fiorentina keeps a clean sheet against an attack with this much speed. I'm predicting a 2-1 win for the good guys, with an Iličić penalty and a Bernardeschi goal.