Fiorentina’s first opponent in the new season was Catania, and Giuseppe Rossi opened the team’s 2013/14 scoring when he turned Juan Cuadrado’s cut-back into the corner, a wonderful moment for the striker after having suffered the disappointment of a double cruciate ligament injury. An unstoppable strike from David Pizarro after dummying twice to send to challengers the wrong way secured the home win.
The Viola’s next fixture produced an impressive 5-2 away victory against Genoa. Ex- Juve player Alberto Aquilani started off the flow of goals with a simple header from a corner, before a brilliant long-range volley from Rossi squirmed past Mattia Perin. Then, the moment that the fans had been waiting for: Mario Gomez’s first Fiorentina goal, a clever finish over the top of the goalkeeper after a run to the near post.
Alberto Gilardino netted an excellent outside-of-the-boot reply, but Vincenzo Montella’s men weren’t finished, and both Rossi and Gomez went on to seal braces.
A 1-1 draw with Cagliari at the Stadio Artemio Franchi followed, a game in which the biggest news was the knee injury to Gomez that means he will be sidelined against Juve.
The Viola were level on points with the Bianconeri going into their next fixture against Atalanta, and they remained so when they emerged 2-0 winners thanks to a tap-in from Matias Fernandez and a good finish on the turn from the ever-prominent Rossi. While the hosts seemed to lack confidence, Montella’s men demonstrated their assertiveness in closing out games.
The team’s first defeat of the season came at the hands of Inter on 26 September. Excellent shot-stopping from Samir Handanovic denied Fiorentina a host of golden chances in a first half they dominated, but he was unable to prevent Rossi from converting a penalty, the Italian’s fifth Serie A goal of the season.
But Inter reappeared galvanised after the break, and Esteban Cambiasso began the comeback when he acrobatically stuck the ball past Neto following the Viola’s failure to clear a corner. Jonathan then fired home a second on the half-volley to consign Montella’s men to their first defeat of the season.
Fiorentina’s most recent two fixtures have both finished on equal terms, with a 2-2 home draw against Parma followed by a goalless stalemate away at Lazio. Gonzalo Rodriguez and Juan Vargas were on the scoresheet in the first, while nobody managed to find the net in the second as the Viola registered just one shot on target.
A heavy presence on the treatment table has forced Vincenzo Montella to switch his formation regularly between 4-3-3, 4-3-1-2 and 3-5-2 systems, and with such an adaptable squad at his disposal, it’s hard to predict how the side will line up against Juventus on Sunday afternoon.
One thing that is certain is Giuseppe Rossi’s status as the Viola’s top scorer by far, scoring five out of the team’s total of 13 league goals. The striker has largely been playing as a lone man in the box since the injury to Mario Gomez (who is directly behind him in the scoring charts with two), and is effective in the poacher’s role.
Of those 13 strikes, 60% have arisen from the right wing, where natural wingers Juan Cuadrado or Joaquin are a big threat.
Fiorentina are also particularly dangerous from corners, where specialist Borja Valero’s crosses have been headed home in the fixtures with both Genoa and Parma.
The side build their attacks from a talented midfield, with Montella opting against the deployment of a gritty, defensive holding midfielder in favour of players who are technically gifted with the ball at their feet. This is reflected in the possession statistics, where Fiorentina have always come out on top, even in the loss against Inter at the San Siro.