Fiorentina against Juventus is always a red letter day on the calcio calendar, and it may be even more interesting than usual this year. While the Viola have historically struggled against the Notts County cosplayers, to the tune of a W40 D58 L86 mark in 184 matches, including a W2 D2 L6 record in their past 10 meetings. That said, the Viola took 4 points from the bad guys last year, including a historic 0-3 triumph in this fixture.
The referee for this one is 34-year-old Simone Sozza of Seregno. In 4 Serie A matches this year, he’s handed out 18 yellow cards and 3 penalties; that latter category is much higher than his usual rate. This’ll be just his 13th game at the top flight, too, and his first with Juve. He has handled a Viola match before, though: the 1-2 loss to Napoli earlier this year, in which he did a reasonably decent job.
The match will be played on Saturday, 6 November 2021, at 5:00 PM GMT/1:00 PM EST, at the Allianz Arena in Turin. The forecast calls for a chilly day at the foot of the Alps, with temperatures dropping 7 C/42 F around kickoff. On the plus side, it’s going to be mostly clear and pleasant, so the traveling fans shouldn’t have to bundle up, or wouldn’t if the Bianconeri hadn’t “accidentally” made it impossible for them to buy tickets.
It’s been uh quite a year for the Old Lady. Currently sitting in 9th with 15 points (their lowest totals since 2005-2006), they’re winless in 3 straight league matches, including losses to Sassuolo and at Hellas Verona. The silver lining is that, after beating Zenit St. Petersburg in Turin on Tuesday, they’ve guaranteed a place in the next Champions League round, but make no mistake: this is a team that is teetering on the brink of a nosedive.
Manager Max Allegri has the personality and tactical nous to rescue them, but he’ll have to do it without RB Mattia de Sciglio (knee), while CF Moise Kean (leg) is probably only fit enough for the bench. It’ll likely be a 4-4-2 featuring Federico Chiesa (boo hiss) on the left and maybe Juan Cuadrado on the right of midfield. There could be some rotation in the middle as well, where Rodrigo Betancur and Adrien Rabiot will hope to replace Weston McKennie. The danger men, of course, is Paulo Dybala (3 goals, 3 assists), who’s been magnificent so far, although you know that Chiesa will want to stick it to his former employer as well.
Juventus have looked best this year when getting Dybala between the lines to create, so Fiorentina’s midfield will focus on staying very compact to minimize those spaces. It sounds like Chiesa is likely to start on the left, so expect to see a steady stream of long balls that direction. That could require the midfield to tilt that direction to help out as well. Really, though, those have been Juve’s primary avenues of attack this year, so it’s a matter of limiting those two players. While that’s easier said than done, obviously, the Viola should do okay if they can keep Dybala and Chiesa quiet.
It’s been awhile since Fiorentina was above Juve in the standings this late in the season, but that’s exactly where they are: 7th place with 18 points after beating up on Spezia and Cagliari. Aside from a win at Atalanta against the run of play, though, the Viola have yet to beat a Serie A heavyweight; really, you’d have to think that the supporters would be thrilled with a draw here, although winning at Juventus 2 years in a row would be mighty special.
Manager Vincenzo Italiano will sweat the availability of LW Nicolás González (coronavirus), who’ll need a negative result the day before kickoff to be available, while GK Bartłomiej Drągowski (thigh) and DM Erick Pulgar (ankle) are also out. The only two selection questions facing the mister are at rightback and right wing. The former is in for a battle with Chiesa, which could mean Lorenzo Venuti’s defensive ability could earn him the nod over Álvaro Odriozola. Further forward, Riccardo Sottil is perpetually on the verge of a breakthrough but is still probably more useful than José Callejón.
Juve have been pretty bad defensively, largely due to a midfield that frequently fails to protect the defense, which means Riccardo Saponara’s drifts into central positions could be the key to unlocking them. Guys like Wojciech Szczęsny, Leonardo Bonucci, and Matthijs de Ligt have all made a number of individual errors as well, so strong pressing could also pay dividends.
How to watch
TV: Yeah, maybe. Check BeIn 2 or BT Sport 2 depending on where you are. Here are the full international television listings.
Online: Here is your list of safe, reliable, and legal streams.
Ted’s Memorial Blind Guess Department
Despite the table, most betting houses have Juventus as overwhelming favorites, which does make some sense. After all, the bad guys have a payroll that’s something like four times the wage bill of the good guys and have some really good players. I hate it and you hate it and that’s how this game works.
Even so, I feel okay about this one. Assuming that Nico doesn’t get the okay to play, I think that Fiorentina get their first draw of the season to the tune of 1-1, with Chiesa (of f***ing course) and Vlahović making the chimichangas in a game that features Fiorentina trying to pass the ball around while Juve focus on countering. This being one of the league’s best grudge matches, though, anything could happen.