The Viola resume Serie A action against the basement-dwelling Delfini. So expect a nail-biter.Fiorentina will look to get the second half of the season started with a win against last-placed Pescara. These teams haven’t met since 2013; in the away fixture, the Viola pasted their hosts 1-5, but the Delfini pulled off a shocking 0-2 upset back at the Franchi. Their last meeting before that was in Serie B back in 2004, when they drew.
The referee for this one is Carmine Russo, who most recently handled the 2-5 win at Cagliari. In 19 matches under his watch, the Viola are W13 D3 L3.
The match will be played on Sunday, 8 January 2016, at 2:00 PM CST/9:00 AM EST at the Stadio Adriatico in Pescara.
The Viola definitely ended the year on the skids, managing to go W1 D2 L2 in their final 5 matches before the break. While the team has recently managed to chase their long-standing habit of emerging from lengthy layoffs with dud performances, the specter still exists for the fans, especially in light of recent results.
At least Paulo Sousa will have a fully healthy squad to choose from for the first time in weeks, with the exception goalkeeper Bartlomiej Dragowski (knee). He’ll probably go with his typical first XI. Expect Gonzalo Rodriguez back in the starting lineup, although Borja Valero tweaked an ankle in training and may not be held out on the grounds that Pescara ought to be beatable without him. The only question mark is on the right wing, where Cristian Tello and Federico Chiesa will battle for a starting berth.
Back in Serie A after a 2 year absence, it’s been tough sledding for the Abruzzo outfit. They’ve garnered just 9 points thus far and boast a -19 goal difference, both good for worst in the league. Over their past 5 matches, they’re W0 D2 L3. If we’re being honest, they just don’t look like a Serie A outfit right now, as their promotion from Serie B came on the back of a monumental season from the now departed Gianluca Lapadula
Manager Massimo Oddo is at least getting some reinforcements already in the form of form of centerbacks Cesare Bovo and Guglielmo Stendardo (from Torino and Atalanta, respectively) and highly-rated Juventus loanee Alberto Cerri as a target man, as well as ex-Viola tenor Alberto Aquilani from Sassuolo. First choice leftback Cristiano Biraghi is suspended due to yellow card accumulation, so former AS Roma star Alessandro Crescenzi will probably get the nod. Wingers Simone Pepe (calf)—yes, that one—and Jean-Cristophe Bahebeck (calf), as well as midfielder Alexandru Mitrita (leg) and centerback Dario Zuparic (flu) are all questionable.
Oddo trotted out a 3-5-2 last time out against Palermo, possibly signaling a shift in his plans, but has mostly stuck with a 4-3-2-1ish shape this year. Rightback Francesco Zampano and midfielder Valerio Verre (who should be recovered from a bout with the flu) are both Viola targets and may be the two best players in the squad, although diminutive striker Gianluca Caprari has also been dangerous. Expect Pescara to sit deep and soak up pressure, then break quickly and hope that Caprari does something cool.
How to watch
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Ted’s Memorial Blind Guess Department
This is the sort of team that Kalinic usually feasts on, especially with Borja back in the fold. Let’s call it at 0-3 for the good guys, with a Kalinic brace and a Federico Bernardeschi strike to round it out.