Serie A Week 17 - 21/12/08 (14.00 UK)
Sampdoria - Fiorentina
Sampdoria are in real need of points after finding themselves closer to the relegation zone than European qualification, while Fiorentina will visit the Stadio Luigi Ferraris intent on banishing their disappointing away form to the history books.
The Viola have struggled to carry their momentum on the road with them, having lost five games on their travels already this term, but there have been signs of improvement.
A 4-1 demolition of Torino in their last away trip will have added confidence to the squad and Coach Cesare Prandelli will be hoping his players can now start to show the same relaxed style in Genoa as they have been demonstrating in Tuscany so far.
Last week’s 2-0 win over Catania, combined with Milan’s loss at Juventus, means Fiorentina are right back in the Champions League hunt and only one point off the top four.
Prandelli will be further pleased by the news from his physios, as he has a mostly injury-free squad to play with. The only problems are in his back-line, where captain Dario Dainelli and converted full-backs Massimo Gobbi and Martin Jorgensen are all still unavailable. However, the Viola should have more than enough options to cover those issues, especially in the wide positions.
Samp boss Walter Mazzarri will be equally pleased with his almost empty treatment room, although his only absence is a big one. Midfield enforcer and skipper Angelo Palombo has been a vital figure for the Blucerchiati in recent years and they have struggled to replace his presence during his lengthy injury problems this season, which start way back in Week 5 when he was forced off against Juventus.
After a couple of false starts, Mazzarri will be hoping that last week’s 2-0 win over Reggina really did see his team turn the corner. However, that’s what he thought after back-to-back thrashings of Lecce and Catania, before they were followed by two lacklustre defeats including the painful derby loss to Genoa.
Antonio Cassano and Claudio Bellucci are starting to rekindle their partnership, but things need to improve dramatically if Samp are to keep up their European ambitions.
Keep an eye on: Adrian Mutu (Fiorentina) – Alberto Gilardino can’t stop scoring and now that his Romanian strike partner is back and firing on all cylinders it’s no wonder Cesare Prandelli is getting so excited about his ‘Goal Twins’.
Last season: Sampdoria 2-2 Fiorentina
Form guide: Sampdoria (W W L L W) Fiorentina (L W L W W)
Sampdoria (probable): Castellazzi; Lucchini, Gastaldello, Accardi; Padalino, Delvecchio, Sammarco, Franceschini, Pieri; Bellucci, Cassano
Fiorentina (probable): Frey; Comotto, Kroldrup, Gamberini, Vargas; Kuzmanovic, Melo, Montolivo; Santana; Gilardino, Mutu
Ref: To follow…