Sunday marks the start of a two week period in which Fiorentina and Juventus meet three times; first in Serie A, and then over two legs in the Europa League. With Juventus currently sitting top of the table and Fiorentina 29 points back in fourth, will this series of matches be anything but dull and predictable?
It's possible the viola have already used up their surprise quotient for the season. When the two sides met in Florence back in October, Juventus went 2-0 up before the halftime whistle. By the 60th minute, one could make serious Euro by betting on a Fiorentina comeback, but that's exactly what happened. In the span of fourteen minutes, Juve were torn apart, with Giuseppe Rossi scoring a hat trick and Joaquín adding another. Final score 4-2 and that match remains the Old Lady's only league loss of the season.
Fast forward four months and it looks like the visitors have no chance. Fiorentina have won just one of their last six league matches. Giuseppe Rossi is hurt again and Mario Gómez is still struggling after a lengthy injury layoff. With Borja Valero out with suspension, they've got no one that can really control the freewheeling midfield. Their defense is weakened by the suspension of Nenad Tomović.
All that, plus Juventus have yet to drop points at home this season.
You could argue that the viola were in similar straits when hosting Juventus. They have drawn with Cagliari, Lazio and Parma and lost to Inter Milan. Yet this time around, those draws with Cagliari and Lazio became losses and Fiorentina was unable to score in either match. Without their star strikers at the helm, Fiorentina seem to have lost their confidence.
On the visitor's side, the bianconeri have an overabundance of the stuff. It's been eighteen matches that they've been unbeaten on that fateful day at the Franchi. They're top, they've scored 62 goals, they have a goal difference of 43 and they're 11 points above second-place Roma (who, to be fair, have a game in hand).
The only time the Old Lady give a glimpse of weakness is when they go ahead early as evident in the Fiorentina game. It is not a problem that has been corrected later in the season, as seen last month when Hellas Verona came back from 2-0 down to grab an equalizer late in the game. If the opponents take the lead, Juventus are prepared to punish, but they'll take their foot off the gas if they sense they've got complete control.
So will Fiorentina be able to take advantage?
Injuries and Suspensions
Match Date / Time
Sunday, March 9 at 12:30 p.m. local / 7:30 a.m. ET
Juventus Stadium, Turin
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