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Juventus vs Fiorentina: Preview

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A win here would be the biggest result for this team all year, especially with all injuries in the squad.

Tatiana Bonetti of Fiorentina Women during the Serie A... Photo by Marco Canoniero/LightRocket via Getty Images

The match will be played on Saturday, 30 November 2019, at 7:45 PM GMT/2:45 PM EST at the Juventus Center in Turin. The forecast calls for a chilly fall day with temperatures that are thinking about freezing, but it should be clear, crisp, and not even very windy. In short, it’ll be perfect for a derby.

Juventus

The Bianconere are flying high, undefeated in Serie A after 7 matches, and have 19 points; not surprisingly, that’s good enough for first in the league. They dropped their first points two weeks ago in a 2-2 thriller at 2nd place AC Milan, then steamrolled 4th-place AS Roma 0-4 to reestablish their credentials. As the current holders of the scudetto, they’re the favorite in any domestic match, given that the 20 goals they’ve scored and the 5 they’ve conceded this year are both the best in the division.

Manager Rita Guarino has perhaps the most talented squad in the league, especially now that the injured duo of Barbara Bonansea and Cecilia Salvai are approaching full health after lengthy injury layoffs. The former made her first appearance in months in the pasting of the Giallorosse, while the latter may be ready this week. They’ll add balance to a formidable attacking lineup featuring striker and leading scorer Cristiana Girelli (who’s got 8 goals already), winger Eniola Aluko, and midfielders Martina Rosucci and Valentina Cernoia. The fantastic Sara Gama (who’s probably the only Italian defender who’s at Alia Guagni’s level) and goalkeeper Laura Giuliani hold down the back.

Juve have played a 4-3-3 this year and try to dominate the ball, pinning opponents deep and wearing them down with constant attacks while also trying to counterpress upon losing the ball. Cernoia, who’s a central midfielder by trade, has spent long stretches on the wing this year in Bonansea’s absence, but could return to her more natural position here. The real threat, though, is Girelli, who’s been fantastic all year; the Viola backline have their work cut out for them to stop the Italy international.

Fiorentina

Sitting in 3rd place with 16 points in the league, just 1 behind 2nd-place Milan, isn’t a bad spot to be, but there’s no way for the season not to feel like a bit of a disappointment thus far. Despite being the higher seed, they were drawn against defending English champions Arsenal in the Champions League and washed out against the Gunners (who are one of the five or so best sides in the world) in the first knockout round. They also dropped the Supercoppa and the Coppa Italia to Juve earlier this year, so it’s been a season of near-misses. A win here would really open up the Scudetto race and offer some revenge.

Manager Antonio Cincotta will do without GK Francesca Durante, RB Alia Guagni, CM Stephanie Breitner, and CF Lana Clelland, which is about as talented a group of absentees at every level of the pitch as you’ll find anywhere. While Stephanie Öhrström may be the best backup goalie in Serie A and Janelle Cordia’s been quite solid in the engine room, there’s no real way to replace Guagni, who’s without a doubt the best fullback in Italy; Laura Agard will do her best, but it’s tough to replace that kind of class.

Cincotta will line up his usual 4-4-2, which, as you’d expect against a 4-3-3, will happily cede possession, looking to soak up pressure and break quickly down the wings. Up top, Tatiana Bonetti has been on fire, notching 5 goals already, and has an experienced and deadly strike partner in the wonderful Ilaria Mauro or in steady veteran Lisa de Vanna. Also watch for Alice Parisi on the right wing: she’s a handful cutting inside. The real question, though, is whether the Viola rearguard can hold out enough for their forwards to get in against a shorthanded Bianconere defense.

Possible lineups

Juventus (4-3-3): Giuliani; Boattin, Gama, Sembrandt, Alves; Cernoia, Junge-Pedersen, Galli; Caruso, Girelli, Aluko

Fiorentina (4-4-2): Öhrström; Agard, Arnth, Tortelli, Philtjens; Parisi, Thøgersen, Cordia, Lázaro; Bonetti, Mauro

How to watch

TV: Nope.

Online: It’ll stream for free on the club website. Expect the link up about 10 minutes before kickoff.

Ted’s Memorial Blind Guess Department

This is a huge ask for the Viola. Expect them to defend in two banks of four and run the forwards through the channels when they win the ball, bypassing the midfield zone as often as possible. Juve, on the other hand, will look to pass the ball around, moving it laterally in an attempt to find a weakness. Although the hosts will certainly be favored, they’re at the end of a 3-match run against their 3 closest competitors and may well be suffering from mental fatigue. We’re predicting a 1-1 draw with Girelli and Bonetti on the scoresheet, although we’re bracing for something much less pleasant in light of the injury report.

Forza Viola!