This week presents Antonio Conte with one of his most important tactical challenges in the race for the Scudetto: finding a way to outfox the only team who have managed to beat Juve in the league so far this season.
Although Fiorentina have picked up just a solitary point in their last three games, and what’s more have just one win from the last six to their name, they are strong side built on a host of technically talented players.
The biggest area of Viola ability is the centre of the pitch. 25 of Fiorentina’s 45 goals have been netted by midfielders, a higher proportion than any other top-flight side.
Chief among them is Borja Valero. As well as scoring five goals, the Spaniard is the team’s creative driving force, with more passes in the opposition final third than any other player this season in Serie A and especially dangerous from corners. He will be forced to sit out the game against Juventus through suspension, however.
They also have some formidable names in attack, though the strikeforce has been significantly hampered by recent injuries to key performers in the final third.
Giuseppe Rossi will be sorely missed given that he scored a hat-trick in less than 15 minutes against Juve in October and was the league’s top scorer until Carlos Tevez overtook him with his wondergoal against Milan on Sunday.
Mario Gomez is back after a six-month knee injury layoff that has forced him to miss almost all of the season so far, but he has yet to find the net since his return and still needs to regain his full match sharpness.
Joaquin was the other scorer in the 4-2 win last time, but he has not netted in the league since.
Other than the familiar danger of former Juve player Alessandro Matri, one Fiorentina man the Bianconeri will have to particularly look out for is Juan Cuadrado. A threat due to his tricky, agile dribbling down the flank, he is one of the most explosive wingers in the top flight.
In defence, meanwhile, the key Viola man is Stefan Savic. The Montenegrin has made more interceptions than any other Serie A player this year.
Despite Savic’s prowess at keeping things in order at the back, something Conte will no doubt note is that the Fiorentina are vulnerable to a strong start by the opposition: the Viola have conceded a higher percentage of their goals in the first half than any other side (59).