Fiorentina vs Inter Milan, preview: Fighting for third place

Claudio Villa

It's been a difficult 2013 for both Fiorentina and Inter, but both sides have shown signs of life in recent weeks. This match could reveal which side really has the strength to compete for a Champions League position.

Sunday in Serie A wraps up with fifth and six place colliding in Florence. This tie would have been a lot more exciting back in December, when both Inter and Fiorentina were battling for third. But a win could send the nerazzurri back into third, overtaking rivals AC Milan, while the Viola are only five points away. A turn in fortunes for either side could bring them right back into the Champions League race.

Inter will be bolstered by last week's 3-1 victory over Chievo Verona, their first victory in a month. And with their previous win being against Pescara, well, I think you can guess just how good their 2013 has been. The bump from last weekend may be canceled out by news of injury to Diego Milito, who will miss the rest of the season. Rodrigo Palacio may have scored a brace against Cluj midweek, but Milito remains the top scorer for the nerazzurri, and there's no denying his presence will be missed.

Fiorentina, on the other hand, will be looking to forget last week's 2-0 loss to Juventus, a scoreline that actually flatters the Viola. The visitors looked bright enough in the first half, although Stevan Jovetic was a non-entity. But Vincenzo Montella must have told his team to not even bother returning for the second half -- Fiorentina looked nearly as bad as they'd done under the reigning years of Sinisa Mihajlović.

If Montella can muster the courage, he should put Jojo on the bench. Adem Ljajic, on for Jovetic for the final fifteen minutes against Juventus, was the one spark for the Viola last week. Let him start alongside Luca Toni and bring Jojo in as a substitute. Even if it doesn't shake Jovetic enough to spur him back to better play, there's no way the play could be worse than the last match.

Fiorentina Injuries and Suspensions

None known.

Alberto Aquilani is back from injury, which should make Montella smile. If that's possible. It's not been conclusively proven the corners of his mouth can turn upright.

Inter Milan Injuries and Suspensions

Luca Castellazzi, Cristian Chivu, Gaby Mudingayi, Diego Milito, Walter Samuel, and Dejan Stankovic (injured)

Well...Inter are used to this.

Match Date / Time: Sunday, February 17 at 8:45 p.m. local, 2:45 p.m. ET

Venue: Stadio Artemio Franchi, Florence

TV: Sky Calcio 1, ESPN UK, RAI Internazionale

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