Fresh off a stunning upset of rivals Juventus, Fiorentina will attempt to keep the ball rolling against a Chievo Verona side who’ll seem very familiar, considering that they were the Coppa Italia opponents just last week. In their last 10 matchups, the Viola are W8 D2 L0. It’s also worth mentioning that there’s been a red card every two matches between these sides through that span, and at their last meeting in Verona, the Flying Donkeys held on for a scoreless draw.
The referee for this one is Fabio Maresca, who’s never handled a Fiorentina match before. He does have a reputation for big calls, issuing an average of 1 red card every 1.7 matches he’s officiated in Serie A, as well as 1 penalty every 3 matches. What we’re saying is that he’s probably going to be a slakas favorite in no time.
The match will be played on Saturday, 21 January 2017, at 5 PM CET/12 PM EST, at the Stadio Marcantonio Bentigodi in Verona.
The Donkeys are hardly soaring right now, having lost their last 3 league matches in a row. Nevertheless, they’re 12th in the table right now with 25 points, just 3 spots and 5 points behind Fiorentina. They’ve also lost striker Antonio Floro Flores to Bari, although they probably won’t worry too much about that right now.
Manager Rolando Maran will worry, though, about the absences of centerback Nicolas Spolli and midfielder Ivan Radovanovic, who are both suspended. Midfielder Nicola Rigoni (leg) may miss out as well, although rightback Fabrizio Cacciatore (hamstring) and midfielder Preparim Hetemaj (hamstring) should be available.
Maran will set out his usual 4-3-1-2 formation. Considering that he benched many of his starters for that recent Coppa match, it’ll be a very different XI, probably much closer to his usual one. The ex-Viola backline of Massimo Gobbi, Dario Dainelli, and Alessandro Gamberini should be good to go. As usual, Chievo will sit deep, then try to drive through the midfield and play in a clever pair of strikers. Trequartista Walter Birsa is probably the dangerman, with his ability to shoot from distance or thread a clever pass in drives the attack.
The mood in Florence is pretty good after an astonishingly dominant 2-1 win over Newcastle Junior, but it’s a bit early yet to party. The Viola still sit in 9th place with 30 points, albeit with a match in hand against last-place Pescara. The Viola are W2 D1 L2 in their last 5 and badly need to even out the results, especially before the Europa League fixtures pile in February and stretch an already thin squad even thinner.
Paulo Sousa will be missing goalkeeper Barlomiej Dragowski (knee) and striker Nikola Kalinic (suspension), and has also neglected to call up striker Mauro Zarate, probably due to an impending move to West Ham. He’ll hope for a rather more coherent performance against the Donkeys than last time, as he’d heavily rotated his side for the domestic cup match.
Sousa’s also recently favored a return to more of a 3-4-2-1 recently. Carlos Sanchez will probably continue on the right side of the defense, as he’s impressed there in recent weeks. Khouma Babacar will start up front in the absence of Kalinic. The Viola will hope to use Babacar’s pace in behind against a creaky Chievo backline, which could open things up for Federico Bernardeschi and Josip Ilicic to operate just outside the box.
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Ted’s Memorial Blind Guess Department
The prospect of Babacar running at this aged backline is exciting for Viola fans, so let’s call it a big 1-3 win for the visitors with strikes from the Senegalese forward complementing efforts from Ilicic and Chiesa, with Inglese scrambling one over for the hosts, who’ll finish with 10 after Castro gets his marching orders for several bad fouls.