Highly-anticipated game and one of the derby matches of the Serie A round 19 is set to take place on Saturday when Fiorentina will welcome Lazio at their Stadio Artemio Franchi looking to stay in frame for Scudetto midway through the ongoing season.
Fiorentina to fight for the title
While their opening stretch of positive results might have been interpreted as lucky, Viola have most certainly proven their title credentials throughout the campaign. Paulo Sousa’s side have been producing scintillating displays this season and their attack-oriented football has been a joy to watch. Fiorentina have so far scored no less than 36 goals, which is the best record in the Serie A. In addition, their defence has been pretty tight this term, shipping in only 16 to date. The forward trio of Josip Ilicic, Borja Valero and Nikola Kalinic have gained much of the plaudits for their impressive performances. The Balkan duo shared 19 goals between them this season, with Ilicic bagging a brace in the most recent 3-1 over Palermo. The midweek triumph has been second consecutive win for Paulo Sousa’s men, who ended the year 2015 with a 2-0 victory over Chievo. Fiorentina are very active during the January transfer window as Paulo Sousa wants to make sure he holds on to his key-players while at the same time looking to add more quality to his squad. The club announced that an agreement was reached for the contract renewals with Matias Fernandez and Marcos Alonso, who signed a new five-year deal. Marseille defender Nicolas Nkolou has been tipped to make a move to Florence this winter.
Paulo Sousa will be pleased to find out there are no injured players to worry about for the game against Lazio. Marcos Alonso, Matias Vecino and Gonzalo Rodriguez are one booking away from suspension.
Five games, no defeat for Lazio
Biancocelesti have been going on a five-match run without a defeat, which has come as the positive improvement for Stefano Pioli’s team following a sticky patch. Back-to-back triumphs over Udinese and Inter respectively at the end of 2015 have been snapped by a goalless draw at the beginning of 2016 and Lazio will be hopeful of recording the win in their trip to Florenze, which could kick-start their current campaign. Stefano Pioli’s team currently sit at the middle of the standings, in tenth place, with 24 points to the name. Upcoming match has a great significance as three points could see Lazio make two steps forward, but a defeat could even see them drop as low as to 16th. Biancocelesti go into the fixture knowing that they have won three of the last four games between two sides, with Fiorentina failing to score a single goal in any of those four. Pioli will be hoping his midfield trip of Antonio Candreva, Lucas Biglia and Felipe Anderson could replay some of their impressive performances at various points this season. The aforementioned trio has attracted a lot of interest in the January transfer window with at least one them poised to leave Lazio in January. Anderson seems like the most likely choice and the Brazilian has already been contacted by Manchester United.
Stefano Pioli is facing major selection challenges as he will be without Stefan De Vrij, Senad Lulic, Ricardo Kishna, Federico Marchetti, Santiago Gentiletti, Mauricio and Dusan Basta who are all injured, while Keita Balde is also set to miss the trip to Florence due to his red card suspension. On the bright side, Milan Bisevac, the latest club’s signing could be given a chance against Fiorentina.
I expect to see a close-knit contest between two sides who will be very motivated to make an impression in the delicate part of the season. Fiorentina have home ground advantage on their side, and the bigger roster of players ready to make impact on the game.
Top Pick: Home win 1.85 (17/20) @BetVictor
Alternative Pick 1: Half-time draw/Full-time home win 3.00 (2) @888sport
Alternative pick 2: Under 2.5 goals 1.85 (11/13) @Unibet