With a chance to stretch their lead over rivals Inter Milan atop the Serie A table last weekend, defending champions Juventus hit an unexpected roadblock in the form of SSC Napoli — who until scoring the 2-1 upset have been perhaps the biggest disappointment of the current Italian season.
But in a midday match on Sunday, Cristiano Ronaldo and company will get a chance to get back on track, albeit against an unexpectedly dangerous opponent in the Violets of ACF Fiorentina. La Viola face their second match against a top-two opponent in five days after Inter sent them packing from the Coppa Italia on Wednesday.
But the side from Florence has started to show signs of life, remaining unbeaten in four league matches, winning two, since new Manager, Giuseppe Iachini took over from Vincenzo Montella, who lasted just eight months in charge of the club.
Fiorentina also won its first Coppa Italia match, over Atalanta, under the new boss, before suffering elimination at the hands of Inter.
Though La Viola conceded two goals to Inter Milan, that was the same total that the club allowed in all five previous matches since Montella’s departure, according to SB Nation. The resurgence under Iachini has brought Fiorentina to within six points of a European spot.
A win for Juve coupled with an Inter loss later on Sunday would put the defending titlists six points clear at the top.
Despite the new signs of life in Florence, and the fact that the team held Juventus to a goalless draw in the reverse fixture back in September, oddsmakers have not given the visitors much chance in Sunday’s match. According to odds published by The Soccer Times, ACF Fiorentina come in to Allianz Stadium as 8-1 underdogs.
Juve, on the other hand, have been given 1-3 odds to bounce back from their surprise defeat to Napoli and come away with the full three points. A 31-game home league unbeaten streak also lends credence to the heavy odds in Juve’s favor, as they try to take another step toward extending their record for consecutive Serie A titles to nine.
Ronaldo has, as expected, led Juve’s attack with 17 goals. Gonzalo Higuaín is second on the team, finding the back of the net five times.
Fiorentina will look back to that game in September when they got off 18 shots on goal, unfortunately missing them all, on their way to the 0-0 draw, according to Sportskeeda. Historically, the Italian rivals have met on 179 occasions, with 83 of the contests going Juve’s way, to 39 for Fiorentina — and 57 draws.
The Juventus vs. ACF Fiorentina match kicks off at 12:30 p.m. Central European Time in Turin, Italy, on Sunday. In the United States, where the game will be viewable only via the ESPN+ service, start time converts to 6:30 a.m. EST. 3:30 a.m. PST.