The unlikely bitter rivals: Juventus face Fiorentina in Italy’s top of the table clash

Juventus v Fiorentina, Serie A, October 17, 2009

Juventus 4/6; Draw 23/10; Fiorentina 7/2

Fiorentina fans hate Juventus, and Saturday night’s Serie A clash is sure to be a fiery encounter.

Time for a story.

Back in 1980 Fiorentina was bought by Flavio Pontello, and within 24 months of his ownership the Viola found themselves at the top of Serie A and battling it out with the Old Lady of Italian football for the league title. In a spellbinding title race, the 1982 Scudetto was finally decided on the final day of the season, where Fiorentina were denied a goal against Cagliari as they failed to record their much-needed win, while Juventus won the title by just one point thanks to a disputed penalty away at Catanzano which Liam Brady tucked away.

From that moment onwards a bitter rivalry between the two teams erupted, and tensions were later ratcheted up a notch after yet another nip-and-tuck season in 1990.

Domestically Fiorentina had a nightmare season, managing to beat the drop with a win on the final day of the season. But it wasn’t all bad for Fiorentina as, led by the mercurial Roberto Baggio (pictured), the Viola had managed to reach the UEFA Cup final where they again faced Juventus.

The Turin team won the trophy, but Fiorentina’s fans once again had real cause for complaint: the second leg of the final was played in Avellino (Fiorentina’s home ground was suspended), a city with a lot of Juventus’ fans, and Roberto Baggio was sold for €12 million to the rival team on the day of the final. Although Baggio’s transfer was a world record at the time, the Fiorentina faithful rioted on the streets of Florence where fifty people were injured.

Such bitter history continues to divide the two clubs and will likely come to the fore again on Saturday night.

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In a brilliant interview in English, former Fiorentina forward Brian Laudrup talks about how he learned about the Fiorentina-Juventus rivalry, and what it means for the Florence outfit to get one over on their enemies.

The interview can be seen here. (Please note the interview can be seen on Firefox only.)

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Juventus and Fiorentina are currently level on 14 points each, two behind Serie A leaders Inter Milan and Sampdoria. (4/5 to be more than 2 goals in the match.)

Saturday night’s meeting will see former Fiorentina star Felipe Melo turn out against his former employers for the first time since his €25 million move in the summer, while Ciro Ferrara will also hope to have Brazilian playmaker Diego available as Juve look to see in upturn in fortunes after only claiming two points from their last three Serie A games.

With captain Alessandro Del Piero out for at least another month with a thigh injury, Juventus will likely start with Vincenzo Iaquinta and Amauri in attack, with David Trezeguet an option off the bench.

Elsewhere, Fabio Cannavaro may return for Juve from a thigh problem having played in Italy’s 3-2 win over Cyprus on Wednesday after being cleared of a doping charge earlier this week. And Juve’s Mali midfielder Mohamed Sissoko is being tipped to play for the first time since breaking a bone in his foot in March. (Juventus are 6/5 to keep a clean sheet.)

The international break was also hugely beneficial for Fiorentina striker Alberto Gilardino, who managed to bag four goals in two games including a match-winning hat-trick against Cyprus after the Azzurri found themselves 2-down.

Gilardino will not be alone though in the Viola attack, with hotshot Adrian Mutu and upstart Stevan Jovetic able to fill out a dynamic three-man attack. Further back in midfield, Cristiano Zanetti will face the Old Lady having gone in the opposite direction in the Melo-deal, while Riccardo Montolivo and Juan Vargas could also get the nod from the start.

101gg predicts: Juventus 2 – Fiorentina 1 (13/2)

Juventus 4/6; Draw 23/10; Fiorentina 7/2

Full match odds here.


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