Fiorentina vs. Cagliari, Preview: Finally, decent competition for the surging Cagliari

Claudio Villa

Both Cagliari and Fiorentina are undefeated in their last four matches. But this is the match that will truly test the mettle of the visitors' new coaches.

Wow -- where'd Cagliari come from? Just a few weeks ago, they were languishing in the relegation zone, looking like a drop to Serie B was likely. But we forget -- the rossoblu always like to play this game, looking like they're teetering on the edge before hauling themselves up to safety.

Since the arrival of Ivo Pulga, and his assistant Diego López, Cagliari have won four from four. Last weekend, Nenê scored a brace as the rossoblu trounced Siena, 4-2 -- the first match this season in which they've scored more than one goal. But the competition so far has been primarily from the relegation zone: Siena, Bologna and Pescara. This weekend comes the true litmus test: Fiorentina, currently sitting fifth, just five points outside the Champions League positions.

The Viola are unbeaten in their last four as well, only dropping points against Chievo Verona -- and it's near impossible to pick up points against the Flying Donkeys after you've equalized and they've decided to be content with a point. Fiorentina absolutely dominated Lazio last weekend, but when the opposition goes down to 9 men it's tough not to roll all over them.

It was just a 1-0 victory over Genoa midweek, which isn't unusual, as the Viola tend to like winning (or losing) by just one goal. They don't concede a lot, but for such an all-out attacking side, they haven't scored that much, just 12 from 10 matches. It seems Vincenzo Montella's men are determined to keep the competition so distracted that they're unable to remember how to attack. It's an interesting strategy, and one that's worked thus far. The backup plan is just to have Stevan Jovetic lurking in the final third.

Fiorentina Injuries and Suspensions

none known

Cagliari Injuries and Suspensions

Lorenzo Ariado and Vlada Avramov (injured); Daniele Conti and Radja Nainggolan (suspended)

Match Date/Time: Sunday, October 4 at 3 p.m. local, 9 a.m. ET

Venue: Stadio Artemio Franchi, Florence

TV: Sky Calcio 3 (Italy). And Arena Sport 4 throughout the Balkans -- guess they want to catch Stevan Jovetić, Stefan Savić, Adem Ljajić and Nenad Tomović playing for the Viola.

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