Fiorentina and AS Roma have developed a fairly significant rivalry over the past few years, as they’ve both scrapped for the Champions League spots. That bad blood has been magnified by the Mohamed Salah debacle. In fairness, the Lupi have had the better of the match of late; Fiorentina are only W2 D2 L6 in their last 10 against the Romans, with 3 red cards in those matches.
The referee for this one is Niccolo Rizzoli, with whom Fiorentina have a mixed past. In his last 10 matches with the Viola, they’ve gone W4 D4 L2. He handled the legendary 4-2 against Juventus, as well as 1-4 against Inter Milan, but has also the 1-3 against Lazio last year.
The match will begin at 8:45 PM local (2:45 PM EST) on Sunday 18 September 2016 at the Stadio Artemio Franchi.
Fresh off an absurdly boring draw with PAOK in the Europa League, Paulo Sousa will try to inject some life into the moribund Viola. Sebastien de Maio may get his maiden Viola minutes, but the Portuguese mister will probably stick with Nenad Tomovic. Since Matias Vecino is still unavailable, expect Carlos Sanchez to drop into the midfield alongside Milan Badelj, although we could finally see Sebastian Cristoforo make his debut as well. Federico Bernardeschi will likely start from the bench, as Sousa has questioned his fitness after his busy summer at the Euros, so Cristian Tello should get the nod on the right. The tridente of Borja Valero, Josip Ilicic, and Nikola Kalinic will almost certainly continue unchanged.
Fiorentina will probably dominate possession in this one, as has been the pattern of late between these sides. With a defensively capable pair of midfielders, the wingbacks should have permission to motor forward relentlessly, which will hopefully pin the Giallorossi deep in their own territory.
Lucian Spalletti has maintained Rudi Garcia’s work at the club thus far, leading them to wins over Udinese and Sampdoria and a draw at Cagliari. He’s happily kept his predecessor’s structure and ethos, emphasizing direct counters and a hardworking but technically adept midfield. They’ll cede possession and territory, but look to break down the wings with their pacey attackers before centering for Dzeko to finish.
He’ll have to do without defenders Thomas Vermaelen (hamstring), Antonio Rudiger (knee), and Mario Rui (knee), but certainly has the quality to cover for them. Federico Fazio has been in good form this year and should get the nod over Juan Jesus. The only real doubt is whether Diego Perotti will get a start on the wing, pushing either Stephan El Shaarawy or Edin Dzeko to the bench. Don’t be surprised to see old man Francesco Totti get some minutes towards the end of the match, either.
Fiorentina (3-4-2-1): Tatarusanu; Tomovic, Gonzalo, Astori; Tello, Badelj, Sanchez, Olivera; Ilicic, Valero; Kalinic
Roma (4-3-3): Szczesny; Florenzi, Manolas, Fazio, Peres; Strootman, de Rossi, Nainggolan; Salah, Dzeko, El Shaarawy
How to watch
TV: Check BeIn Sports and Rai International, but unless you’re in one of those blessed nations, you’re probably out of luck.
Online: Here is a list of streams you can check. Don’t post any illegal ones in the comments, please. You can also follow along with us on Twitter, and we’ll have a thread for comments posted here shortly before kickoff.
Ted’s Memorial Blind Guess Department
Oof. Let’s say say a 2-1 to Fiorentina, with a Kalinic strike being canceled out by a Dzeko tap-in before a very late winner from substitute Bernardeschi.