With their chances of securing European qualification via the league looking increasingly unlikely, Fiorentina travel to Cagliari on Friday night desperately needing a win. The Viola currently sit tenth in Serie A, four places and seven points behind the Europa League berths, but a victory in Sardinia might put pressure on those above them.
“I don’t think Europe came or went tonight. We had too few points throughout the second half of the season, too few for the quality that we have,” Coach Stefano Pioli told Sky Italia after last weekend’s draw with Lazio. “There are 11 games to go and the Coppa Italia semi-final. I expected this to be tough, as the team didn’t come out well from the week with three games.”
For the hosts, this game offers a chance to separate themselves from the relegation battle, the Rossoblu already six points above the drop zone in 14th place. That will be no easy feat however, Rolando Maran’s men tasting victory just four times since the start of November, largely due to their inability to score goals.
Only four sides in Serie A have found the net on fewer occasions than Cagliari’s tally of 23, failing to score in five of their last seven outings. They will be without Filip Bradaric as the midfielder serves a suspension, while Ragnar Klavan, Lucas Castro and Alberto Cerri all remain sidelined with long term injuries.
Meanwhile, Fiorentina have yet to announce the status of Federico Chiesa after he suffered an abdominal strain against Lazio last weekend. He may miss this clash, with key midfielder Jordan Veretout missing out as he serves a one match ban for the accumulation of yellow cards.
Marko Pjaca has suffered a season-ending ACL tear and will return to Juventus, meaning Luis Muriel and Giovanni Simeone are set to pair up in attack once again. They will be joined by Gerson, meaning Stefano Pioli will need to choose between Bryan Dabo and Christian Norgaard for the vacant spot in midfield.
It will be interesting to see if first-choice goalkeeper Alban Lafont goes straight back into the side, deputy Pietro Terracciano stepping in against Lazio with a superb performance. The one other choice will be in central defence where Pioli has favoured Federico Ceccherini over Vitor Hugo in recent weeks, a situation that is unlikely to continue for too much longer.
CAGLIARI (4-3-1-2): Cragno; Srna, Pisacane, Ceppitelli, Pellegrini; Ionita, Cigarini, Padoin; Barella; Joao Pedro, Pavoletti
FIORENTINA (4-3-3): Lafont; Milenkovic, Pezzella, Vitor Hugo, Biraghi; Benassi, Norgaard, Edimilson Fernandes; Gerson, Muriel, Chiesa
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