When the fixtures were drawn back in late July, this was the opening weekend fixture that everyone got excited about. Two Italian giants and fierce rivals facing each other on the opening day of the season – Surely it can’t get much better than this?
Both Fiorentina and Juventus finished on a high last season, finishing in 4th and 3rd position respectively. They will have to juggle their Schudetto challenges around their Champions League commitments, which makes the season much tougher and highlights the need for bigger squads than before. Fiorentina boss Cesare Prandelli recently ruled out a title challenge, however, with some impressive summer additions including Gilardinho and Montenegro star Jovetic they could mount a serious title challenge. The Old Lady, Juventus, have started to regain some of their pride after the match fixing scandal, they finished 3rd last season and Ranieri’s men will be looking to secure a legitimate title this season.
Juventus have had a reasonably good pre-season; drawing against an injury struck Manchester United and secured a 1-0 victory over Arsenal were just two of their pre-season results. Ranieri’s men should go in full of confidence after last seasons third place league finish and their impressive pre-season campaign. The transfer window has also proved a success for the Old Lady, bringing in household names such as Poulsen and Amauri, recalling wonder kid Giovinco and they strengthened their defence with the addition of Olof Mellberg from Aston Villa.
Fiorentina though are the club that everyone is talking about with their new exciting team. They’re certainly among the title favorites this season. Fiorentina had a good pre-season as well, with an impressive 2-0 victory over AZ Alkmaar, a creditable 1-0 victory over Figline, but the one cause for concern was the 3-1 defeat at the hands of Barcelona. The Viola’s dealings in the transfer window has excited pundits and supporters and many tip Fiorentina as a dark horse for this seasons Schudetto. The most impressive buys from The Viola this summer include forward Gilardino, the widely tipped Jovetic and others include defender Vargas and the flamboyant Brazilian Felipe Melo who will boost Fiorentina’s midfield options.
Both sides though have injury worries that could effect the outcome of this game. Fiorentina could be without star striker Adrian Mutu who picked up an unfortunate elbow injury while on international duty with Romania. With Mutu set to miss the game, it is expected that new signings Gilardino and Jovetic will line up together and create a dangerous attacking force for Fiorentina. However, Juventus have injury worries of their own with club legend Pavel Nedved who is set to miss the game after sustaining a minor injury previously.
Outcome: This will certainly be a mouth-watering clash between the two Serie A giants and it could go either way. Fiorentina have the home advantage, but the loss of goal threat Adrian Mutu may prove to hit them harder than initially expected.
My verdict: A 1-1 draw.