With the first game of the new season on the horizon, we take a look at the key individual battles in which the viola will have to come out on top.
Davide Astori Vs Mauro Icardi
We start with the teams’ Captains. Davide Astori was already a big part of the defence last season, however, his responsibilities have been elevated significantly. He not only has his own defensive priorities but he’s got to lead the defence which could potentially feature two new recruits, in Bruno Gaspar and Vitor Hugo. To add to his worries he’s against one of Serie A’s most feared strikers in Mauro Icardi. The Argentine has a superb record against Fiorentina, scoring seven goals in ten games and also creating a further two. While it will take a team effort to stop Inter Milan’s biggest threat, it’s Astori’s primary duty to marshal Icardi and deny him from adding to his impressive record.
Bruno Gaspar Vs Ivan Perišić
It’s safe to say Fiorentina will most likely be on the back foot for the majority of the match. Therefore, the defence will be key in stifling the Inter attacking force. It’s quite a debut for the new right back Bruno Gaspar. As we all know there has been a desperation for a new right back and to see the end of Nenad Tomovic playing there. If Gaspar can manage to keep the likes of Perisic quiet, Fiorentina may have just found their regular right back. Perisic has been constantly linked away with a move to Manchester United, who are still interested in the winger. However, it’s looking like he’s going to be playing on Sunday. The winger who was involved in 22 of Inter’s goals last year scoring 11. This is going to be one of the key battles on match day and Spalletti will no doubt look to one of his key creative talents to seriously test the debutant Gaspar. It will be intriguing to see how it plays out.
João Mario vs Milan Badelj
After much confusion regarding the future of Milan Badelj it looks like he will be playing his football in Florence well at least til the winter mercato. “Milan Badelj will wear the Viola shirt in the upcoming season,” Fiorentina announced on their official website. If the Croat does start with Benassi and Vertout against Inter he will be the anchor in the Viola midfield. It’ll be his job to deny the likes of Joao Mario from pulling the strings in the number 10 role.
Khouma Babacar Vs João Miranda
Enough of the defensive side of Fiorentina’s gam. Let’s focus a little on how the Viola are going to try to win the game. Since Giovanni Simeone only just joined the club, it's expected that Khouma Babacar will lead the line. The Senegalese striker also has a mightily impressive record against the Nerazzurri. In five appearances he’s scored four and been on the winning side on four occasions. Babacar also has a point to prove this season: with Simeone waiting in the wings it’s now or never for Babacar this season. He’s up against a new partnership possibly with Martin Skriniar as well as the experienced Miranda. The latter is a formidable opponent. However, Babacar came out the better in what was a dominating performance, in the incredible 5-4 victory at the Franchi.
Stefano Pioli vs Luciano Spalletti
Another twist to the tale is the battle between the two new coaches. Pioli, now the former Inter coach, goes into his first game against his old employers. On the other hand, Spalletti’s looking to get one over the club who sacked him after just 27 matches in charge. Both managers will set up similarly looking to play 4-2-3-1 or 4-3-3. The record between the two managers is overwhelmingly in favour of Spalletti. Pioli has never beaten the former Roma manager. The best he’s got is a draw on one occasion. Not an amazing statistic for Viola fans but this weekend's game would be a fine way to change it.