NAME: Fiorentina – Juventus
DATE: September 14, 2019
TIME: 13:00 UTC
VENUE: Stadio Artemio Franchi, Florence , Italy
Juventus looks for a third consecutive win when Serie A makes its return this weekend.
The eight-time defending champions needed a last-minute own goal from Kalidou Koulibaly to have the better of Napoli two weeks ago, after relinquishing a 3-0 lead.
On Saturday, the Bianconeri face another of their main rivals as they travel to Florence to take on Fiorentina. The game couldn’t come at a worse time for La Viola, who has lost both of its opening games.
A 4-3 defeat at home to Napoli was followed by a 2-1 loss on the road to Genoa and coach Vincenzo Montella is already under pressure.
Fiorentina last beat Juventus in January 2017 and had to watch its rivals wrap up an eight consecutive league title with a 2-1 win at its expense in April.
We’re finally done with the international break, and Fiorentina will hope to emerge from the layoff with a bang against defending champion Juventus. In 178 meetings since 1932, the Viola are W39 D56 L83 with a -94 goal difference. Over their past 10 league clashes, the good guys have won just a single match; the rest don’t really matter. This fixture last year resulted in a 0-3 defeat that was about as pleasant as having your toenails pulled out.
The referee for this one is 40 year old (and Florence-born) Massimiliano Irrati. This will be his first Serie A match of the year; for his career, he’s handed out 513 yellow cards, 28 red cards, and 29 penalties in 103 games. In the 8 Viola clashes he’s handled, the good guys are W2 D1 L5, including the 1-0 loss to Empoli last year and the 0-1 to Sassuolo the year before, both of which featured red cards for Fiorentina; it’s always seemed like, perhaps due to being from Firenze, he’s staunchly dedicated to proving that the Gigliati will receive no favoritism from him.
The match will be played on Saturday, 14 September 2019, at 1:00 PM GMT/9:00 AM EST at the Stadio Artemio Franchi in Florence. The forecast calls for a pretty dang warm day with no shortage of humidity, so we could see a slightly more sluggish pace than we’d like, which generally favors whichever team scores first and then can sit back and focus on counterattacking.
The Juventus defence has looked extremely vulnerable this season, especially with Matthijs de Ligt struggling and Giorgio Chiellini missing out with injury. But, we still expect the Bianconeri to preserve a clean sheet, largely due to Fiorentina’s lack of offensive firepower. The Hard Tackle predicts a comprehensive 2-0 win for the visitors.
Fiorentina Team News
Look, the Viola are going to win another game at some point. After all, even Chievo Verona tallied a couple of victories in their historically awful season last year. The question is when it’ll happen and whether Fiorentina will have anything resembling a team spirt by then. Following a referee-assisted defeat against Napoli and a predictable upset loss to Genoa, this team has now gone 16 straight matches without a win in the league dating back to last year. That’s, uh, very bad.
Manager Vincenzo Montella has to be worried that he’s facing the sack, even this early in the season, as he’s yet to earn a win in his second stint on the Viola bench. He’ll have the full complement of his players, although he’ll have some choices to make. There have been rumors that he could bench captain Germán Pezzella in favor of Erik Pulgar in defense, which would probably mean Marco Benassi returning to midfield. Il Aeroplanino will probably pick the experience and physicality of Kevin-Prince Boateng up top, with Dušan Vlahović or maybe even Fred coming off the bench. Franck Ribery could draw the start over Riccardo Sottil, but Vinnie’s preferred him in a bench role thus far.
Against a Sarri-led team, the primary goal is to stay compact, minimizing space between the lines for attackers to exploit. As the hosts will likely choose a higher line than Juve’s used to seeing, pressing the midfielders, particularly Miralem Pjanić, will prove crucial, but the real test will be trying to catch the Bianconeri rearguard out, as they looked rather shaky last week at times against Napoli. That’ll probably be Montella’s main brief in attack: look to isolate Federico Chiesa against Danilo and hope for a Benassi strike out of nowhere.
Current Fiorentina squad is:
Forwards: Kevin-Prince Boateng, Cyril Théréau, Valentin Eysseric, Dušan Vlahović, Pedro, Federico Chiesa, Riccardo Sottil, Mattia Trovato, Bobby Duncan, Renato Simič, Samuele Spalluto, Nino Kukovec
Midfilders: Franck Ribéry, Milan Badelj, Bryan Dabo, Rachid Ghezzal, Sebastián Cristóforo, Marco Benassi, Gaetano Castrovilli, Erick Pulgar, Andrés Schetino, Szymon Żurkowski, Tofol Montiel
Defenders: Martín Cáceres, Federico Ceccherini, Germán Pezzella, Lorenzo Venuti, Dalbert, Nikola Milenković, Jacob Rasmussen, Pol Lirola, Aleksa Terzić, Luca Ranieri
Goalkeepers: Pietro Terracciano, Bartłomiej Drągowski, Federico Brancolini, Michele Cerofolini
Probable Lineup (4-3-3):
Dragowski; Lirola, Pezzella, Milenkovic, Dalbert; Pulgar, Badelj, Castrovilli; Chiesa, Boateng, Ribery
Juventus Team News
After 2 weeks, it looks like business as usual in the table for Newcastle Junior, but it’s been anything but that on the pitch. A narrow win at Parma required an ultra-scrappy goal from a defender, while an attacking explosion saw the defense ship 3 goals against Napoli last time out. And with a Champions League rematch against Atletico Madrid looming in the group stages, it’s possible that the villains overlook this fixture, although that’s probably the raw optimism talking.
Manager Maurizio Sarri (fully recovered from his pneumonia) will have to do without captain and defensive stalwart Giorgio Chiellini (knee), fullback Mattia de Sciglio (hamstring), and midfielder Aaron Ramsey (back), but has the squad depth to compensate for all those absences besides perhaps Chiellini’s. Matthijs de Ligt will step into the captain’s boots at the back, with all of Blaise Matuidi, Sami Khedira, Adrien Rabiot, and Emre Can vying for the two midfield spots alongside Miralem Pjanić. Up top, a rejuvenated Gonzalo Higuaín will be flanked by Cristiano Ronaldo and probably Douglas Costa.
After seeing de Ligt’s struggles against Napoli, expect Montella to target the youngster with Chiesa, who’ll also try to get the better of Danilo. The rumors of Pulgar at the back indicate that Montella could be looking to build moves from deep, hinting at a rather braver intention than sitting deep and trying to counter, but we’re not completely convinced; after watching Juve against Napoli, Vinnie could be planning to open things up a little bit and give the fans a spectacle.
Current Juventus squad is:
Forwards: Cristiano Ronaldo, Mario Mandžukić, Gonzalo Higuaín, Marko Pjaca, Paulo Dybala
Midfilders: Sami Khedira, Blaise Matuidi, Aaron Ramsey, Miralem Pjanić, Juan Cuadrado, Douglas Costa, Emre Can, Adrien Rabiot, Federico Bernardeschi, Rodrigo Bentancur, Alessandro Di Pardo
Defenders: Giorgio Chiellini, Leonardo Bonucci, Alex Sandro, Danilo, Mattia De Sciglio, Daniele Rugani, Matthijs De Ligt, Merih Demiral
Goalkeepers: Gianluigi Buffon, Carlo Pinsoglio, Wojciech Szczęsny, Mattia Perin
Probable Lineup (4-3-3):
Szczesny; Danilo, Bonucci, de Ligt, Sandro; Matuidi, Pjanic, Khedira; Costa, Higuain, Ronaldo