Kick-Off: Saturday, April 25, 20:30 CET. Artemio Franchi Stadium, Florence.
Viola Must Bounce Back
Fiorentina have proven once again this season that they are capable of mixing it with the best. Despite the fact that they have failed to defeat any of the four powerhouse clubs in Inter, Juventus, Milan or Roma this term, they are well positioned in fifth place with six rounds of football remaining.
To this point, they have managed to record 55 points from 32 matches, and consequently they are two points adrift of Genoa, the team who currently occupy the fourth and final Champions League qualifying position.
With this in mind, the Viola do have a battle on their hands if they wish to qualify for Europe’s premier competition once again, something that has been made extremely clear through their recent results.
Last weekend Cesare Prandelli’s men were stunned by an inspired Udinese outfit, as they went down 3-1 at the Friuli stadium. With Genoa playing host to a struggling Bologna side in the corresponding round of fixtures, the Viola can ill afford anything but a win in this clash.
Fiorentina have won 11 of their 15 matches at home this term and have tasted defeat on just two occasions, so they should be very confident heading into this match. They will be without the likes of Adrian Mutu and Felipe Melo, but in front of their own fans there will be no excuses.
If they are serious about earning qualification for the Champions League once again, this is a match that they simply must win.
Hanging On By A Thread
Roma have undoubtedly been the most inconsistent side in the Italian Serie A in 2009, as they have failed to win two league matches in succession since late January, when they accounted for Napoli and then Palermo two days later.
As a result, their chances of attaining Champions League qualification have taken a massive blow over the past month or so, as they had slipped eight points behind fourth place prior to last weekend’s round of matches.
Fortunately for the sake of the Giallorossi though, they managed to capitalise on Genoa’s shock 1-0 defeat at home to Lazio by scarping past a struggling Lecce side 3-2 at the Stadio Olimpico. A brace by Francesco Totti was enough for the Romans to reduce the deficit to just five points with six games left this term.
With this in mind, the equation is simple for Luciano Spalletti’s men in regards to their European ambitions for next season. If they wish to pull off a miracle and attain qualification, they must win all of their remaining fixtures, which include difficult trips away to Milan and Florence, to face Fiorentina this weekend.
Their injuries and inconsistent form may play a part in preventing this from being the case; however, if they are motivated and determined to succeed from the onset in their upcoming clash, then there is no reason why they won’t be able to do the double over their Florentine opponents this season.
April 19 v Udinese (A) LOST 1-3
April 11 v Cagliari (H) WON 2-1
April 5 v Atalanta (A) WON 2-1
March 22 v Siena (H) WON 1-0
March 15 v Inter (A) LOST 0-2
April 19 v Lecce (H) WON 3-2
April 11 v Lazio (A) LOST 2-4
April 5 v Bologna (H) WON 2-1
March 22 v Juventus (H) LOST 1-4
March 15 v Sampdoria (A) DREW 2-2
Prandelli will be without the injured pair of Mutu and Mario Santana, both of whom are unlikely to feature again this season. Felipe Melo has four matches of suspension remaining, and his replacement in the midfield is expected to be Marco Donadel, as was the case in the defeat to Udinese last weekend.
Better news for the Viola surrounds the timely return from suspension for the club’s Italian international, Riccardo Montolivo, whilst Per Kroldrup is a chance to return from a muscular injury.
Possible Starting XI – (4-2-3-1): Frey; Comotto, Dainelli, Gamberini, Pasqual; Semioli, Montolivo, Donadel, Kuzmanovic; Jovetic, Gilardino.
Injuries and off-field dramas continue to plague the capital club, and they have done so yet again in the lead-up to this crucial fixture. Cicinho and Juan have been joined by Alberto Aquilani on the long-term injury list, as the Italian midfielder is currently in Amsterdam treating an ankle problem. Jeremy Menez is also set to miss through injury, as is goalkeeper Doni, who is struggling physically, as well as mentally, according to his deputy, Artur.
Christian Panucci returns from the suspension that kept him out of last weekend’s victory over Lecce, but Philippe Mexes still has two games out following the red card he picked up in the Roman derby two weeks ago.
Possible Starting XI – (4-2-3-1): Artur; Motta, Panucci, Riise, Tonetto; De Rossi, Pizarro; Taddei, Brighi, Baptista; Totti.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Fiorentina – Alberto Gilardino: Fiorentina failed to score against Roma in the reverse fixture earlier in the campaign, so they will be keen to make amends for that this weekend. In the absence of Mutu in particular, further pressure will be placed on Gilardino yet again. He has scored 16 times in the league this term, and one would think that he would have to add to that tally if the Viola are to emerge victorious.
Roma – Francesco Totti: The Giallorossi captain has been in inspiring form since returning from injury, and he could be the man to single-handedly guide the Romans to next season's Champions League. His brace against Lecce last weekend took his tally to 10 goals for the season, and with so much riding on this particular match, you just sense that for Roma to win, Totti will have to be at his absolute best.
It will be a thrilling affair in Florence, as both sides will be desperate to win and attain three crucial points. Fiorentina were easily beaten last weekend by an in-form Udinese side; however, they will be keen to bounce back and impress in front of their fans this time around. Meanwhile, Roma will be aware that anything but a win here will end any hope they have of playing Champions League football next term, so for that reason I feel that this one will be an extremely entertaining and high-scoring draw.
Fiorentina 2-2 Roma
Adrian Del Monte, Goal.com