Juventus will have a chance to climb to second spot in the Serie A table when they face off against Fiorentina on Sunday afternoon.
With just six games left to be played in the 2020/21 Serie A season, reigning champions Juventus will be hoping to consolidate their position in top four when they lock horns with Fiorentina at Stadio Artemio Franchi this weekend.
An underwhelming campaign in what was Andrea Pirlo’s first season in charge has meant that Juventus’ are set to miss out on the Serie A crown for the first time after winning it for nine seasons in a row. Indeed, the Bianconeri are eleven points off of leaders Inter Milan heading into this weekend and while mathematically, a late surge is still possible, the chances of it happening are very slim.
Juventus have been quite inconsistent of late, winning just three of their last six fixtures (D1 L2). However, they did Parma 3-1 in their latest game and with second-placed AC Milan and third-placed Atalanta both set to play after them, they have a chance of moving into second place with a win on Sunday.
Fiorentina, meanwhile, have had a forgettable campaign so far, and find themselves in the 14th place currently, just five points clear of the drop zone. They picked up their first win under new manager Giuseppe Iachini last time out, beating Hellas Verona 2-1 to bring to an end a four-game winless run. With Juventus blowing hot and cold, the Viola will be hoping to take maximum points off them and pull further away from the bottom three.
The reverse fixture, played in December last year saw Fiorentina hammer ten-man Juventus 3-0 with Dusan Vlahovic and Martin Caceres scoring on either side of an Alex Sandro own goal. Ahead of their latest meeting, The Hard Tackle takes a closer look at both teams.
Team News & Tactics
📝 | SQUAD LIST
The viola players to face Juventus ⚜️
— ACF Fiorentina English (@ACFFiorentinaEN) April 24, 2021
Heading into the game, Fiorentina will have three absentees as Aleksandr Kokorin and Borja Valero are out with injuries while Giacomo Bonaventura misses out due to suspension. Giuseppe Iachini is expected to set his team up in a 3-5-2 formation with minimal changes to the side that defeated Hellas Verona last time out.
Bartlomiej Dragowski will be the man in goal for the home team and he will be shielded by the three-man backline comprising of Nikola Milenkovic, German Pezzella and Martin Caceres, who scored in the last game. Lorenzo Venuti and Cristiano Biraghi ought to be the two wing-backs who will be the primary source of width going forward for Fiorentina.
Erick Pulgar is a certain starter in midfield, with the Chilean tasked with providing added screening to the backline. He will have support from Sofiane Amrabat while the third slot in the centre of the park is likely to be taken up by Gaetano Castrovilli, who will have the license to push upfield and support the attackers when his side are in possession.
At the top, there is no looking past the in-form Dusan Vlahovic, who will be the target man for the Viola while veteran Franck Ribery operates in a free role around him to try and create openings.
Probable Lineup (3-5-2): Dragowski; Milenkovic, Pezzella, Caceres; Venuti, Amrabat, Pulgar, Castrovilli, Biraghi; Vlahovic, Ribery
Juventus, meanwhile, have just two players out for the game as Federico Chiesa and Merih Demiral both miss out with injuries. Danilo has recovered from a minor problem to make it to the travelling squad for Sunday’s game in Florence.
Andrea Pirlo is likely to make a few changes to the side that won against Parma last time out, starting with goal where Wojciech Szczesny is expected to come back into the side in place of Gianluigi Buffon. Danilo and Alex Sandro, who was the star of the match against Parma, ought to continue as the full-backs on the right and left sides respectively.
— JuventusFC (@juventusfcen) April 24, 2021
Giorgio Chiellini is set to get the nod on Sunday with the Italian likely to replace Matthijs de Ligt as Leonardo Bonucci’s partner at the heart of the Juventus defence against Fiorentina.
Rodrigo Bentancur will be the holding midfielder, shielding the backline but his output on the ball needs to improve if Juventus are to control the match. Adrien Rabiot should partner the Uruguayan on Sunday, with Arthur Melo dropping out after making a rare start against Parma. Juan Cuadrado is a certain starter on the right-wing while Aaron Ramsey is in line to come in for Weston McKennie on the left.
Up front, Cristiano Ronaldo is a certainty to feature from kick-off. He is likely to have Paulo Dybala as his partner once again with the likes of Alvaro Morata and Dejan Kulusevski being options from the bench.
Probable Lineup (4-4-2): Szczesny; Danilo, Bonucci, Chiellini, Sandro; Cuadrado, Bentancur, Rabiot, Ramsey; Dybala, Ronaldo
- Juventus are undefeated in 19 of their last 21 away matches against Fiorentina in all competitions.
- Fiorentina have conceded at least 3 goals in their last 3 home matches in Serie A.
- Juventus have won only one of their last five Serie A matches away from home (D2 L2), after having won four of the previous five (L1).
- After the 2-1 win over Hellas Verona last time out, Fiorentina stand a chance of winning two Serie A matches in a row for the first time this season.
- Cristiano Ronaldo has scored three goals against Fiorentina in Serie A – all of them coming from the penalty spot. Against no other Italian side has he netted more Serie A goals via penalties (also three vs Genoa).
Player to Watch
🇷🇸 Dušan Vlahović (21) in Serie A for @acffiorentina these last 2 seasons:
☑️ 41 starts
⚽️ 22 goals
🅰️ 4 assists
His 16 goals this season make him the top U23 goalscorer in Serie A.
And the 4th youngest goalscorer in the top 5 leagues. 🤩 pic.twitter.com/FYFuheC9Pr
— Football Wonderkids (@fbwonderkids) April 21, 2021
After having been in and around the first-team for a couple of seasons, the Fiorentina striker is enjoying his breakthrough campaign in 2020/21, that has put him on the radars of several top clubs such as Liverpool, Manchester United and Real Madrid. Following his goal against Hellas Verona last time out, Vlahovic took his tally for the season to 16.
The last time a player scored more league goals for Fiorentina in Serie A was way back in 2008/09 when Alberto Gilardino had netted 19 times. A towering presence in attack, the 21-year-old will be up against two of the most accomplished defenders in Serie A in the form of Leonardo Bonucci and Giorgio Chiellini. How he fares in this battle against the veterans could have a major impact on the outcome of the game.
Fiorentina 1-2 Juventus
Fiorentina may have picked up an emphatic win in the reverse fixture against Juventus and come into Sunday’s game on the back of a win over Hellas Verona but they have been well below par this season, barring a few bright performances. At the same time, Juventus’ display against Parma last time out will have been quite a confidence-booster for a team that hasn’t delivered to its potential this term.
There is unlikely to be a lot separating these two teams on Sunday afternoon. But Juventus’ superior quality in the ranks should give them the edge. To that end, The Hard Tackle predicts a narrow win for Andrea Pirlo & co.