19.08.2016 16:00 - in: Serie A S

    Fiorentina in focus

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    With the Viola providing the opposition this Saturday, Juventus.com looks at how Paulo Sousa’s side have fared on and off the field since last season
    A season of two halves

    Fiorentina’s fifth place finish on 64 points in 2015/16 struck more or less the average of their achievements over the last decade in Serie A, whilst accruing exactly the same tally as in 2014/15. All of this, however, only really tells half the story, as Paulo Sousa’s charges stormed out of the traps at the start of last season, reaching a formidable 38 points at the midway point of the campaign, only three off then league leaders Napoli.

    Indeed, the Viola had arrived at Juventus Stadium in mid-December sitting in second place and leading the Bianconeri by five points, and this gap was momentarily on course to extend to eight following Josip Ilicic’s early penalty before goals from Juan Cuadrado, Mario Mandzukic and Paulo Dybala reversed the scoreline and seemingly the two sides’ respective fortunes.

    While Massimiliano Allegri’s men ended up romping to the title on a record-breaking run, Fiorentina began to falter from the winter months onwards and would pick up just another 26 points in the second half of the season, winning only twice in their final 12 matches. They would give Juventus a run for their money at the Artemio Franchi in late April, but an eventual 2-1 victory for the visitors all but sealed their fifth successive Scudetto as Sousa and company were made to settle for Europa League football for a fourth straight season.

    Transfer window welcomes

    In what has been an uncharacteristically quiet transfer window for Fiorentina so far, a couple of transfers stand out in particular, not least the permanent signing of Davide Astori from Cagliari. The 29-year-old centre-back, capped 11 times by the Italian national team, was a mainstay in the Viola backline while on loan last season and it is hoped that his remaining in Florence will bring stability to a team looking to improve on their 42 goals conceded in 2015/16.

    Other rearguard reinforcements have seen the arrival of Dutch right-back Kevin Diks from Vitesse Arnhem, Croatian left-back Hrvoje Milic from Hajduk Split and Polish keeper Bartlomiej Dragowski from Jagiellonia Bialystok.

    Meanwhile further up the field, the loan signing of right winger Cristian Tello from Barcelona could well add dynamism and creativity to an already talented midfield starring the likes of Ilicic, Borja Valero and Federico Bernardeschi.

    Undoubtedly the highest profile departure is that of Germany international striker Mario Gomez who has joined Wolfsburg following three years on the Fiorentina books, which included a season-long loan to Besiktas last term.

    Less fun in friendlies

    Fiorentina have endured a tough summer as far as their pre-season friendlies are concerned. After starting with July wins over Trentino Team (10-1), Feralpisalo’ (3-1), Trapani (2-1) and Panetolikos (3-0), Sousa’s men have gone on to lose each of their five most recent fixtures against Cesena (0-2), Celta Vigo (0-1), Bayer Leverkusen (1-3), Schalke (1-3) and Valencia (1-2).

    The Viola will therefore look to throw the formbook out of the window when they make the trip to Turin this weekend, after which they host Chievo Verona next Sunday, followed by a trip to Genoa on 11 September with their opening Europa League tie falling just four days afterwards (the competition’s group stage draw is next Friday just like for the Champions League).

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