The six-point margin that separates Fiorentina from Napoli, who rank third in the standings, represents a furrow perhaps too great at this time of the season. The home defeat against Inter, which brought with it heated controversy for the offside goal scored by Mauro Icardi, could prove crucial in the final reckoning for next year’s last Champions League spot.
Fiorentina might have to play its residual hopes for a Champions League position on March 23, when they will play in Naples against Napoli, a trip far from simple for any squad. In addition, the Tuscan outfit, before meeting Napoli, will play at the Artemio Franchi stadium against Lazio and Chievo, and away versus Parma and Juventus, while the southerners have a less challenging calendar in the upcoming weeks.
It will be intriguing to see how Fiorentina will perform against Juventus, after the legendary 4–2 score of the first round, as the two teams might have to face a triple collision in a two-week bracket. Both clubs have delivered in the first leg of the Europa League, against Trabzonspor and Esbjerg, and seem destined to face one another in the next phase of the cup.
The Viola will literally have to face a ‘tour de force’, which is worth an entire season. To make things even more interesting, Fiorentina have to deal with the occasional injuries that have afflicted the main players of the roster, with Cuadrado, Ródriguez and Vargas, who were called up for the game at Parma, but are still recovering from various ailments, while Giuseppe Rossi is still recovering from his knee injury.
Montella hopes to be able to count on a fully fit Mario Gómez soon, since the German has not been particularly bright in these early exits after his long absence due to injury. Moreover, the various alternatives available have not made their mark: while Ilicic and Joaquín have had rather discontinuous performances, Anderson (or ‘Andow’, as he likes to be called) is still a mystery, and Matri’s goal-scoring skills seem to have hit a slump after his brace at Catania.
The recovery of Borja Valero will surely give more quality and substance to the midfield, where the absence of Spanish playmaker has been noticed in recent weeks. Will the Spaniard’s ‘phosphorus’ be enough to reinvigorate the performances of the Viola team, or will the lack of experience and maturity prevail in a period so full of games?