Saturday's match in Florence might be a battle between fourth and fifth, but stating it that way diminishes the importance of the meeting. Fiorentina lead Roma by six points, but they're not looking backward -- for the Viola, it's all about the fight for third. Fiorentina held Milan to a draw a month ago and have won all three of their matches since (scoring 12 goals in the process), closing the gap on the rossoneri to just one point. One! Vincenzo Montella's side are within touching distance of their Champions League dream, and until the end of the season, they can't afford to put even a toe wrong.
Fortunately, they've made barely a mistake in the past month. Well, if you ignore allowing Torino to come back from three goals down to draw even, anyway. The point is, the Viola have looked fantastic -- Juan Cuadrado is nearly impossible for the opposition to handle, Alberto Aquilani is finally demonstrating consistent skills, and Adem Ljajic has surpassed Stevan Jovetic as the player Fiorentina absolutely must lock into a new contract. Under Montella, Fior have gelled as a squad and are a blast to watch.
Roma, on the other hand, have every reason to be looking over their shoulders. Sure, they're currently in fourth, but Udinese are a point behind them, Lazio a point behind them, and Inter Milan a point behind them. One slip and European play falls away (unless they win the Coppa, of course, but that really wrecks the narrative, don't you think?).
And Roma, of course, are always prone to a slip. Remember when they somehow lost to Palermo? And drew against Pescara, just a couple weeks back? Of course, they dismantled Siena last round, with Pablo Osvaldo scoring a hat-trick and Erik Lamela adding an extra for good measure. But Roma have conceded more goals than any side other than the delfini, and while much of that is down to the legacy of Zeman, their defense is still not as reliable as one could hope for a European contender.
But Roma have also scored the most goals in the league -- 68 -- and with Fiorentina having scored just three fewer, you have to think this is going to be a fun match. For the neutrals, anyway. If you know fans of either of these sides, you might want to buy them a stiff drink. Or slip them a tranquilizer.
Fiorentina Injuries and Suspensions
Stefan Savic (suspended)
AS Roma Injuries and Suspensions
Match Date / Time
Saturday, May 4 at 8:45 p.m. local, 2:45 p.m. ET
Stadio Artemio Franchi, Florence
Sky Sport 1, Sky Calcio 1, ESPN UK, RAI Internazionale