With Serie A kicking off this weekend, Football Italia looks at the crucial fixtures for the top sides, and it’s a much changed Fiorentina who kick off 2017-18.
The Viola have sold practically their entire first XI from last season with Stefano Pioli seeing Borja Valero, Federico Bernardeschi and Gonzalo Rodriguez leave the Stadio Artemio Franchi.
The Tuscans are therefore somewhat of an unknown quantity heading into the season, but their passionate fanbase will demand at least a Europa League spot.
Here are five fixtures which could be critical to them achieving that objective.
Inter-Fiorentina [Week 1]
Borja Valero’s departure from Florence was tough on both sides, with the midfielder admitting he’d never have left for Inter had he not been forced out.
As fate would have it, the fixture computer decided to throw up an immediate reunion, with the Viola visiting San Siro on the opening weekend.
Adding to the intrigue, Matias Vecino will also face Fiorentina, while Stefano Pioli comes up against the club which sacked him last season.
Fiorentina-Milan [Week 19]
Milan and Fiorentina have been Europa League rivals in recent years, but the Rossoneri expect to be gunning for the Scudetto this season.
Nikola Kalinic is expected to complete a move to San Siro in the coming days, and he can be sure of a frosty reception at the Franchi on his return, having gone AWOL from training in his final days with the Viola.
Fiorentina-Juventus [Week 24]
The most keenly felt fixture in Florence is always when Juventus visit the Stadio Artemio Franchi.
A 2-1 win over the Bianconeri was one of the few highlights of Paulo Sousa’s final season, and as a former Fiorentina and Juventus player, Stefano Pioli will know exactly what this fixture means.
Federico Bernardeschi, a Fiorentina youth product, will return having moved to Turin for €40m this summer and he’ll face the most hostile of receptions.
Fiorentina-Napoli [Week 35]
Pioli’s side face off with likely Scudetto contenders Napoli, at a point in the season where neither side will want to slip up.
This fixture brought a 3-3 draw last time around, in what was one of the best games of the season, and there may be even more at stake this time.
Milan-Fiorentina [Week 38]
Fiorentina travel to San Siro on the final weekend, with former Coach Vincenzo Montella hoping to be fighting for the Scudetto.
With Inter at Lazio on the same day, it could be a crucial final round and the Viola will have their part to play in what could be a thrilling last day of 2017-18.
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