Well, so much for a match against lowly Bologna proving a springboard. Fresh off a frightfully dull Derby dell’Appennino, Fiorentina return home to welcome the hated Juventus. Dating back to the founding of Serie A in 1932, these two have met 174 times, with Fiorentina holding a W37 D56 L81 record in those matches, with a -95 goal difference. Over the past 10 meetings, the Viola hold an alarming record of W2 D1 L7, including a 0-2 defeat in this fixture last year which included Federico Bernardeschi scoring against his former side and celebrating like he’d won the World Cup of everything.
The ref for this one is Daniele Orsato of Vicenza, who’s generally considered one of Italy’s top officials. In 6 Serie A matches this year, he’s handed out a whopping 35 yellow cards (but no reds) and 2 penalties. He’s generally pretty quick to the book, so we may be due for him to unleash some fireworks. In 29 matches under his watch, Fiorentina are W9 D7 L13, which hardly inspires confidence. In the 4 clashes against Juventus he’s handled, the Viola have lost 3 and drawn 1. We last saw him when the good guys lost 1-0 at Lazio.
The match will be played on Saturday, 3 December 2018, at 5:00 PM GMT/12:00 PM EST at the Stadio Artemio Franchi in Florence. The weather forecast is for a cool, cloudy day. There’s a slight chance of rain, but it should be an absolute cracker for a bit of the fitba.
How bad is it in Florence? Quite. Fiorentina have drawn their past 5 matches, scoring just 4 goals, and haven’t won since the end of September. The attack and midfield look broken. and it feels like years since that 5-1 win over Chievo Verona. Make no mistake, this is a team that is rapidly hitting crisis levels, and Pantaleo Corvino and the Della Valle brothers have to be thinking about making some changes at the top. After all, 18 points and a 10th-place berth in the league can’t be what the brass expected after some significant salary outlays this summer.
Manager Stefano Pioli may be without captain Germán Pezzella (hamstring), which would be a serious blow to his plans. That could mean that Federico Ceccherini is in line for another start; after his struggles against Bologna’s Federico Santander, the prospect of seeing the ex-Crotone man face down Cristiano Ronalo and Mario Mandžukić is rather unappealing. Further forward, the mister could opt to hand Marko Pjaca a chance to prove his mettle against his parent club, which could well jump start the moribund winger’s season, but that’s a big if.
Expect more of the same from Pioli, whose inability to vary his tactics has been mighty frustrating this year. This could be a perfect match for Bryan Dabo, as Edimilson Fernandes has been pretty anonymous all year. Gerson might start on the right wing again, where he looked decent against the Veltri, which means that Chiesa could operate on the left against João Cancelo; the Portuguese fullback’s defense has been much better than advertised this year, but faced with Fede cutting in and Cristiano Biraghi on the overlap, that wing is probably the best hope for a Viola breakthrough.
It must be miserably boring to support this side as they continue their sterile excellence. Undefeated thus far and having taken 13 points from their past 5 matches, the Juvenuts have already opened an 8 point gap between themselves and nearest followers Napoli. They’re also assured of qualifying for the Round of 16 in the Champions League and are likely to win their group; with a match against Inter Milan on Friday, a Wednesday clash against Young Boys in which a win would guarantee a Group H win, and the derby against Torino the following Saturday, the optimist might hope that they’ll overlook this fixture.
Manager Max Allegri, however, has been doing this for long enough to ensure that his charges take every game seriously. Even with Alex Sandro (leg), Emre Can (illness), Sami Khedira (ankle) and Bernardeschi (groin) uncertain, the troll-faced mister can call on plenty of quality all over the pitch and should be confident in his side’s talent advantage at pretty much every spot on the pitch.
It’s always tough to predict how Newcastle Junior will play. They may opt to keep the ball early, pin their hosts back, and try to get a goal or two so that they can shut things down by halftime. Alternatively, they could sit back and let the Gigliati flail around until they grant the visitors a chance on the counter. Whatever the tactical approach, there’s no question the Bianconeri will be heavily favored.
How to watch
TV: Rai Italia, DAZN, and Eleven Sports 2 are all slotted to carry Saturday’s marquee Serie A matchup. Double check the international listings here.
Online: Here is your list of safe, reliable, and legal streams.
Ted’s Memorial Blind Guess Department
Crap. The only positive Fiorentina can take into this one is that they look like they’re going to share points in every match for the rest of the year, so let’s go with a 1-1 draw in which the hosts get outplayed for pretty much the entire match but get one back through Marco Benassi, with Paulo Dybala on the board for the villains. But also, crap. This is probably not going to be fun at all.