Serie A leaders, Fiorentina will be looking to maintain their position at the top of the table on Sunday evening when they host eighth place Atalanta at the Stadio Artemio Franchi.
Match preview by John Fioretini @JohnFiorentini and Marcello Ferrari @studlione
If, as many Viola fans now expect, Fiorentina are to mount a genuine challenge for the Scudetto, this is the sort of fixture that they need to win to underline those title credentials. Under new coach, Paulo Sousa, Fiorentina have impressed with their performances this season, and the players appear comfortable in the varying formations which Sousa has adopted for each opponent. They have dominated possession in most games but, it is only over the past few games that they have added a more direct approach with their passing, leading to an increased number of chances in front of goal.
A quick look at current form and the history of this fixture suggests that the only conceivable result should be a Fiorentina victory. The Viola have won all three of their league home games this season, and have also emerged victorious in the last six meetings between these two sides, keeping a clean sheet in four of those six meetings. On top of that, Atalanta have failed to beat Fiorentina on any of the last fourteen occasions when they have visited the Franchi. However, since losing to Inter on the opening weekend of the season, Atalanta are unbeaten in their last five Serie A matches.
Although several players impressed for the Viola during their 4-0 win away to Belenenses in the Europa League on Thursday evening, Fiorentina are likely to be unchanged from the team that started against Inter last Sunday. They do, however, have a slight injury worry over Facundo Roncaglia, who was taken off towards the end of the 4-1 victory over Inter. If Roncaglia is unable to play, Nemad Tomovic will likely come into the team.
Atalanta are likely to keep the same team that defeated Sampdoria 2-1 on Monday evening, although German Denis increased his claims for a place in the starting line-up by scoring the Nerazzurri’s second goal in that victory.
Notable quotes from Sousa in the pre-match press conference:
“We have played well up to now, but Atalanta is healthy and only lost the first match of the season. They have the second best defense and have won two in a row. It is difficult to prepare for a match on such a short time.”
“We must remain concentrated, our opponent had more time to prepare than us, but we want to continue the streak we are on.”
“Atalanta is a solid club, they fight till the end. They have some great individual talents that can punish you.”
“Roncaglia trained today but unsure if he can play tomorrow, he has 24 hours to recover.”
“Rossi is working hard to return to full form. He is eager to play and is getting better by the day.”
Lastly a word on Buffon not on the Ballon D’Or list:
“He could have won this trophy every year. I don’t want to say more, he had a great career and last year had an incredible season.”
Probable starting XI:
Fiorentina 3-5-2: Tatasaranu; Roncaglia, Rodriguez, Astori; Blaszczykowski, Badelj, Valero, Vecino, Alonso; Ilicic, Kalinic.
Atalanta 4-3-3: Sportiello; Bellini, Toloi, Paletta, Drame; Gollini, de Roon, Kurtic; Moralez, Pinilla, Gomez.