Kick-Off: Sunday, May 3, 15:00 CET. Stadio Artemio Franchi, Florence.
Flying In Fourth
Following their impressive victory over Champions League rivals Roma last weekend, the mood in the Fiorentina camp is sky high. After watching Genoa fall to Bologna on Sunday afternoon, the Viola took hold of fourth as they now prepare for the final five rounds with fate in their own hands. With the gap on the Grifoni a mere one point, however, Cesare Prandelli must prepare his side for five finals, as the Champions League run-in looks set to go right to the wire.
With Roma now almost certainly out of the running, Prandelli’s side have taken a huge step to sealing their passage into Europe’s biggest stage. They will be buoyed by the manner in which they dealt with the Giallorossi, as they demonstrated far more desire from the offset, reducing Roma to another embarrassing defeat. Should the Tuscans complete the job come the end of May, last weekend’s victory will almost certainly be regarded as a pivotal point in their season.
After having lost only once to the Granata in the last seven meetings at the Artemio Franchi, Prandelli will be confident his side can notch another three points when Giancarlo Camolese’s men come to town on Sunday. As Genoa prepare for a massive derby encounter against Sampdoria, it could be another chance for the Viola to consolidate fourth spot and open up a further lead on their rivals. However, given the current situation of the visitors, they must not underestimate the threat of Torino, as they continue to fight for their lives.
Teetering On The Brink
Following last Sunday’s nail biting victory over Siena, Camolese’s men are still on course for the great escape, as they hover just one point over the drop zone with five rounds left to play. As the former Livorno tactician commented on his side’s renewed fighting spirit after the victory, it looks like the Granata have finally woken up to the reality of a relegation dogfight.
With the bottom three all picking up points last weekend, it was all the more important that the Granata successfully past Siena. As they prepare for the final rounds, it will be vital that the Turin club capitalise on their rivals' head-to-head fixtures - and they will have a chance to do so this weekend. As Bologna and Reggina fight it out on Saturday, whilst Lecce face a daunting trip away to Juventus, Torino could make an important step away from the bottom three with a positive result in Florence.
With the odds stacked against them as they prepare for the trip south, Camolese must instil a never-say-die attitude within his team as they look to upset a side chasing Champions League qualification. Should the Granata snatch something at the Franchi, it could give them the confidence to push on further in their quest to escape to drop.
25 April: Fiorentina 4-1 Roma
19 April: Udinese 3-1 Fiorentina
11 April: Fiorentina 2-1 Cagliari
5 April: Atalanta 1-2 Fiorentina
22 March: Fiorentina 1-0 Siena
26 April: Torino 1-0 Siena
19 April: Milan 5-1 Torino
11 April: Torino 2-1 Catania
5 April: Palermo 1-0 Torino
22 March: Torino 1-3 Sampdoria
Prandelli looks set to field a similar lineup to the side that dismantled Roma last weekend. Adrian Mutu and Mario Santana are both in the infirmary, whilst Marco Donadel and Felipe Melo will miss out through suspension.
Probable Starting XI (4-2-3-1): Frey; Comotto, Dainelli, Gamberini, Pasqual; Kuzmanovic, Montolivo; Semioli, Jovetic, Vargas; Gilardino
Giancarlo Camolese has a long injury list that includes Paolo Zanetti, Eugenio Corini, Marco Pisano, Marco Di Loreto and Elvis Abbruscato. Andrea Gasbarroni looks set to get the nod ahead of Alessandro Rosina behind the forwards.
Probable Starting XI (3-4-1-2): Sereni; Rivalta, Natali, Franceschini; Diana, Barone, Saumel, Ogbonna; Gasbarroni; Bianchi, Stellone
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Alberto Gilardino has been a revelation for the Viola since his summer switch from Milan. Currently lying third in the Capocannoniere standings, 'Gila' is just three goals shy of the top. As Fiorentina look to string a set of positive results together that could push them towards Champions League qualification, Gilardino will certainly play an important role in helping them realise their goal.
Rolando Bianchi scored the winner for Torino last weekend and his hard work is finally starting to pay off following his summer move from Manchester City. Currently the Granata’s top scorer with seven goals, the former Reggina marksman will be hoping to improve on his slender haul, as he looks to repay the faith of Urbano Cairo and keep Torino in the top flight.
With fourth place now in their grasp, Fiorentina will be determined not to slip up against a side fighting for survival. Torino have all the tools necessary to cause a potential upset in Florence, and doing so could prove vital come the end of May. However, following Fiorentina’s impressive victory against Roma last weekend, I cannot see Prandelli’s men handing back the advantage to Genoa as they look to maintain their position in fourth.
Fiorentina 4-1 Torino
Stefano Federici, Goal.com