Juventus visits old rival Fiorentina in Serie A
MILAN (AP) — To say that there is no love lost between Juventus and Fiorentina is something of an understatement.
While it may not be a derby in the traditional sense because there is little geographic proximity between the two teams, there is long-standing animosity and bitterness.
And on Friday, they will face each other in the Italian league with both coming into the match in good form.
On Saturday, second-place Roma will host Sassuolo. Also, Inter Milan coach Roberto Mancini will be looking for his first win in his second spell at the club when his team faces Udinese on Sunday.
Here are some things to know about the Italian league:
The mutual dislike between Juventus and Fiorentina deepened when Fiorentina felt it was robbed of the title by Juventus in 1982. It was exacerbated when Roberto Baggio moved from Florence to Turin in 1990 — prompting full scale rioting in which around 50 people were injured.
This season, both teams are playing well.
Juventus earned a 2-1 win against Torino to complete a perfect November, while Fiorentina has won its previous three matches as Mario Gomez finally ended his eight-month scoring drought in a 4-0 victory at Cagliari.
“The Viola are coming from two away wins (in the league) and are Juve’s historic rivals. We have to prepare ourselves well,” Juventus coach Massimiliano Allegri said. “Fiorentina play good football. We will have to be determined and do well.”
Inter and Roberto Mancini are in need of the three points.
Mancini has yet to win a match since replacing Walter Mazzarri during the international break, drawing against AC Milan and losing at Roma.
Inter failed to win in the league in November and has slipped to 11th, but it is still only six points behind third place and the final Champions League berth.
″(Mancini) has only been here for a few days, the work method and everything else has changed and so we need a bit of time to adapt,” Inter captain Andrea Ranocchia said. “But we did good things even at Roma. Unfortunately we didn’t win, we made mistakes and we’re analyzing them so as not to repeat them.
“He’s brought enthusiasm and a bit more serenity. We’re lacking the results still but I’m convinced that with work they will come because we need to get back up there. We need the three points against Udinese.”
OLD MEETS NEW
It will be an emotional return to San Siro for Andrea Stramaccioni when he takes his Udinese side to Inter Milan on Sunday.
Stramaccioni coached Inter for 14 months after being promoted from the youth team but was fired and replaced by Walter Mazzarri at the end of the 2012-13 season.
This weekend marks his first time at San Siro as visiting coach.
“My present is called Udinese, but Inter will always have a piece of my heart,” Stramaccioni said.
Like Inter, Udinese failed to win in November, but it beat Cesena in extra time to qualify for the next round of the Italian Cup on Wednesday.
“I said there had been a lack of performance, today finally it was there,” Stramaccioni said. “Not only were we aggressive again ... but we also produced a lot of chances.”
FREE KICK MASTER
While Andrea Pirlo has worldwide fame as a free kick specialist, Roma midfielder Miralem Pjanic has flown somewhat under the radar.
Pjanic scored his second goal against Inter last week with a magnificent free kick.
“Deadball situations can unlock matches,” the 24-year-old Pjanic said. “I like taking them and I always feel I can score.”
Roma hosts Sassuolo on Saturday with the visitors on a run of eight matches unbeaten.