Serie A Preview: Fiorentina - Atalanta

With both teams slipping down the Serie A ladder of late, points will be at a premium.
Kick-Off: Sunday, December 6 15:00 CET
Stadio Artemio Franchi, Florence

Stretched to the limit

Competing both domestically and in the Champions League looks like being a tough ask for Cesare Prandelli's hiccuping Viola side. One day they are losing at home to an opportunistic Parma side, despite being  the better team for most of the game, the next they are picking up a vital victory over Lyon in Europe with half of their usual strike force absent and pushing Inter all the way to the 86th minute in the San Siro.  

Although progression to the knock-out stage of European football's most prestigious club competition means this is a breakthrough season for Fiorentina, it does appear to be costing them in Serie A. Following the 1-0 defeat to the Nerazzurri last weekend, Prandelli's side slipped all the way down to 10th spot in the table. More worrying still is the fact that they are struggling to score goals; they have just 15 from 14 games, less than Palermo, Napoli and even Chievo.

A home game against struggling Atalanta, then, is the perfect opportunity to pick up some points and climb back up to where they belong.

The first rule of fight club is...

Antonio Conte is not a happy man. For 44 minutes against Roma last weekend, it was all going swimmingly. His side were winning 1-0 and seemed to be in control of the game. Then, against the run of play, David Pizarro’s corner was headed past Andrea Consigli by Mirko Vucinic to level the scores right on half-time. Atalanta trudged off with the air of a team who's motto is 'it never rains, but it pours'.  At least they didn't come out in the second half and shrug their shoulders, as they had done against third division side Lumezzane in the Coppa Italia the previous week. But when Simone Perrotta gave the away side an undeserved lead with less than half-an-hour remaining, Conte's troops seemed to go into panic mode and were suddenly a little too desperate to equalise. They didn't.  And the defeat means they are still very much in the same relegation dogfight they were in when the permanently worried looking ex-Juve midfielder took over from Angelo Gregucci.

If they are going to survive this season, they are going to have to fight for their lives. Conte, for one, is ready for the battle.

"Atalanta will save itself, I am 100 per cent sure of it," he said as he prepared for the trip to Florence. Most neutrals hope he is right.



November 29 v Inter (A) LOST 1-0  (Serie A)
November 24 v Olympique Lyonnais (H)  WON 1-0 (CL)
November 21 v Parma (H)  LOST 3-2 (Serie A)
November 8 v Udinese (A)  WON 1-0 (Serie A)
November 4 v Debrecen (H)  WON 5-2 (CL)


November 29 v Roma (H) LOST 2-1 (Serie A)
November 26 v Lumezzane (H) LOST 1-0 (Coppa Italia)  
November 22 v Siena (A) WON 2-0 (Serie A)  
November 07 v Juventus (H) LOST 5-2 (Serie A)  
November 01 v Cagliari (A) LOST 3-0 (Serie A)  
October 28 v Livorno (A) LOST 1-0 (Serie A)   



Prandelli will have to do without ever-present midfielder Marco Marchionni, who picked up a muscular strain in the game against Inter last weekend and will be out for around ten days. Striker Adrian Mutu also misses out but should be back for the game against Milan on December 19. Stevan Jovetic will probably return to the starting X1.

Possible starting XI (4-2-3-1): Frey; Comotto, Dainelli, Kroldrup, Gobbi; Montolivo, Zanetti; Jorgensen, Santana, Vargas; Gilardino.


Conte will be without the services of Valdes, Thomas Manfredini and Edgar Barreto, who are injured, while Federico Peluso returns from suspension.   

Possible starting XI: Consigli; Garics, Bianco, Talamonti, Bellini; Ceravolo, Guarente, De Ascentis, Padoin; Doni, Acquafresca  


Alberto Gilardino (Fiorentina)

Six goals in 14 games this term doesn't tell the whole story. Suddenly, the Italy international has become one of the most remarkable headers of the ball in world football. Witness his two headed goals in the 3-2 defeat to his former side Parma - both were almost impossibly angled cranial thumps that married pinpoint precision and sheer power. There is no striker anywhere in Europe more inventive in the air.

Robert Acquafresca (Atalanta)

When he got off the mark a couple of weeks ago, Atalanta fans must have prayed that the floodgates would open for the former Italy Under-21 striker. Sadly, one paltry leak is all they have had from Acquafresca so far this season. And if his team are going to clamber away from the quicksand of the relegation zone, you can't help feeling that he will need to find his goalscoring boots.


Atalanta are slowly learning how to fight after years of mid-table comfort but it won't be enough to stop a refreshed Viola from picking up all three points.

Fiorentina 1-0 Atalanta

Gil Gillespie,