Fresh off a head-explodingly frustrating loss at Lazio, Fiorentina return home for what might be the biggest game of the year. Yep, it’s time for Juventus. In 190 previous meetings, the Viola are W41 D59 L90, including W2 D3 L5 over their past 10 clashes in Serie A. Last year, this fixture resulted in a 1-1 draw, although the good guys probably should’ve won, given that Luka Jović had a penalty saved.
The referee for this one is 38-year-old Daniele Chiffi of Padova. In 7 appearances this year, he’s handed out 24 yellow cards with nary a red nor a penalty, which means he’s probably due. Under his watch, Fiorentina is W3 D3 L4; last we saw him was the 0-2 win at Udinese earlier this year. Fun fact: his previous Viola outing was the 2-0 win over Juve back in 2022, so we can at least hope he’s the talisman.
The match will be played on Sunday, 5 November 2023, at 6:45 PM GMT/2:45 PM EST (keep an eye out daylight savings time), at the Stadio Artemio Franchi in beautiful Firenze. The forecast calls for a pretty rotten day: it’s been pouring, soaking the pitch, and the wind is likely to kick up as well. It’s so bad, in fact, that the Curva Fiesole has called for the match to be abandoned due to flooding in the region. Hopefully, the Franchi can hold up, given the truly frightful state of the stadium when it rains.
Despite a couple of disheartening losses in the league (sandwiched around that that thrashing of Čukarički), Fiorentina’s still sitting 6th place with 17 points, only 2 off Atalanta in 4th, and has even had a full week of rest for the first time this season, so hopefully the Viola will have had time to lick their wounds and figure out how to beat their biggest rivals.
Manager Vincenzo Italiano won’t have Michael Kayode but should have Fabiano Parisi back; with Dodô out, expect to see Parisi on the right again. The only remaining personnel questions, then, are figuring out who starts up top—Lucas Beltrán is improving in leaps and bounds but M’Bala Nzola’s physicality may be more useful here—and who’s on the wing opposite Nicolás González—Jonathan Ikoné and Riccardo Sottil both offer pace, dribbling, and frustration, while Christian Kouamé brings defensive discipline and an aerial threat.
You know how Allegri likes to set up his team. He’ll defend with 8 or 9 in the box most of the time and look to strike through a counterattack or a set piece, then shut up shop. He loves nothing more than a 0-1 win away and that’s what he’ll aim for, completely ignoring any passing through the midfield in favor of hitting the ball in behind for the forwards to chase. It’s not particularly good to watch but it’s effective in its own unpleasant way.
As we expected, the Juvenuts has looked pretty good in Serie A this year, in large part due to a European suspension (which allowed Fiorentina to back into the Conference League). Without midweek distractions, the Bianconeri have made it to 2nd in the table with 23 points, just 2 off leaders Inter Milan. With 13 points out of their past 5 games (and not a single goal conceded) and just a single loss on the season, it feels like they just might be hitting their stride. Gross.
Manager Massimiliano Allegri is verging on a selection crisis: Danilo, Mattia de Sciglio, Nicolò Fagioli, Paul Pogba, and Tim Weah all expected to miss out, with Alex Sandro looking like a game-time decision. With so many absences, the only real personnel decision is up top, where Dušan Vlahović likely has the inside on Moise Kean next to Federio Chiesa; expect the former and the latter to receive particularly rowdy receptions from the Franchi.
The hope is that Italiano has a better idea than a steady stream of crosses, as that Juve back line has some big guys who love defending in their own box. This feels like the kind of game where Giacomo Bonaventura will need to provide some creativity from about 25 yards out. It could be worth seeing if González or Ikoné can get at Filip Kostić 1-v-1, as he’s probably the weakest link; perhaps Parisi underlapping can offer a bit of isolation there and prevent the double-team from arriving.
How to watch
TV: There’s a chance. Check the international television listings.
Online: Here is your list of safe, reliable, and legal streams.
Ted’s Memorial Blind Guess Department
The bookmakers have this pretty close with the visitors as only slight favorites, which is surprising at face value. Juve’s been on a good run, sits higher in the table, and has a squad that is orders of magnitude more expensive. However, all the absences clearly have some folks a little spooked. Conversely, despite dropping two in a row, Fiorentina is at home and will likely have an extra emotional edge from playing its biggest rival.
Because this is TMBGT, I’m going to call for a 2-1 win for the good guys, with the Viola scoring first via González before the Bianconeri equalize through Vlahović, with Bonaventura notching a late winner. The pattern should be Fiorentina dominating possession and territory but looking rattled whenever Juve break. Please, please, please let me be right about this one.