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Juventus vs Fiorentina: Preview

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The waiting is over, because Serie A kicks off with a timeless clash between light and dark, good and evil, noble purple and sniveling stripes. IT'S CALCIO TIME, YALL!

Lest we ever forget 4-2, here's a reminder. We've also got a bottle of Conte's tears stashed somewhere.
Lest we ever forget 4-2, here's a reminder. We've also got a bottle of Conte's tears stashed somewhere.
Gabriele Maltinti/Getty Images
Juventus vs. FiorentinaSunday, 20 August 2016 7:45 PM CET, 1:45 PM ET Juventus StadiumTurin, Italy

The Serie A scheduling committee must have thought that beginning the season wasn't enough, so they decided to start it out with one of the hottest rivalries in the league, too. Fiorentina will travel to Turin to take on champions Juventus. The Viola haven't kept kept an clean sheet away to the Bianconeri in 35 years, but will hold out hope for a win, given the tumultuous few months for their rivals, plus their historic penchant for slow starts. Eyes will be on Davide Massa, given the hash that Paolo Tagliavento made of this fixture last season..

Juventus

It's been quite a summer for the old lady. The departure of Paul Pogba and arrivals of Gonzalo Higuaín and Miralem Pjanic have kept them in the headlines, but the bigger story is probably that they've strengthened their position as Serie A's strongest and deepest team after a run to the Champions League semifinals last year. Given their habit of slow starts, coupled with Massimiliano Allegri's habit of dropping his opening fixture, there's a bit more pressure on them than you might expect.

Allegri is likely to set out in his preferred 3-5-2 formation, with his defensive unit as it's been for the past few years. With Claudio Marchisio a long-term injury absentee, he'll have to pick between Mario Lemina and Roberto Pereyra to partner Sami Khedira and Pjanic in the middle, although he seems to be leaning towards the former. In attack, Mario Mandzukic will probably start next to Paulo Dybala until Higuaín, er, regains fitness. Tactically, this will be the same old Juve, looking to soak up pressure and break quickly through the front two.

Fiorentina

Whereas the Juvenuts had a crazy summer, Fiorentina's has been more of a slow boil. It's been a quiet and steady process for Pantaleo Corvino, who's focused on keeping the squad intact more than anything, although he's also added some bench options. That continuity could help the Viola out to another hot start, although heaven knows that this team is always nearly impossible to predict.

Paulo Sousa has a slight tactical edge in this one, as no one knows what sort of system he'll use. He's opted for 4-2-3-1 and 4-3-3 in preseason, but he could revert to last year's 3-4-2-1 as well. Given the injury to Borja Valero, we're guessing it'll be the former. Gonzalo Rodriguez, Davide Astori, and Marcos Alonso are all assured places in defense; given Sousa's preference for easing new players in, Nenad Tomovic is likely to start over Kevin Diks. In midfield, the Valero injury means that Milan Badelj and Matias Vecino will renew their partnership, although new signing Carlos Sanchez could also make an appearance. Federico Bernardeschi and Cristian Tello are locks to play on the wings in some configuration, and Josip Ilicic is the best candidate to play as the number 10 behind Nikola Kalinic, although Giuseppe Rossi could figure as well. Without Valero, Sousa may try to get his charges to play a more basic game, banking on his quality in the wide areas more than last season.

Projected lineups

Juventus (3-5-2): Buffon; Barzagli, Bonucci, Chiellini; Dani Alves, Khedira, Pjanic, Lemina; Mandzukic, Dybala

Fiorentina (4-2-3-1): Tatarusanu; Tomovic, Gonzalo, Astori, Alonso; Vecino, Badelj; Bernardeschi, Ilicic, Tello; Kalinic

Player to watch

Juventus: Without a doubt, it's Paulo Dybala. His pace, tireless running in the channels, and knack for finishing on the break will keep the Fiorentina defense, particularly Tomovic on their toes.

Fiorentina: After such a brilliant start to last season, Nikola Kalinic's form dropped off a cliff in the second half. Up against the strongest back three in Italy, he'll have to be at his best to keep the Viola attack dangerous.

How to watch

TV: RAI and BeIn will be showing this one live, so check your listings.

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.

Ted's Memorial Blind Guess Department

Because there's no way we're predicting a loss (of course we're unbiased professionals), let's call it a 1-2 win, with a Gonzalo header canceled by a Dybala strike, and a late Berna goal to take the spoils.