Preview: Fiorentina vs. Udinese

Preview: Fiorentina vs. Udinese

Top-six hopefuls Fiorentina will welcome Udinese to the Stadio Artemio Franchi for their Serie A encounter on Wednesday evening.

La Viola have won four of their last five league games on home soil, all by a 1-0 scoreline, while the Friulians will be looking to extend their unbeaten away run to three matches.

Fiorentina’s slim hopes of securing Champions League football next season were dealt a major blow when they suffered a surprise 2-1 defeat away against a resurgent Salernitana side last weekend.

Riccardo Saponara restored parity for La Viola in the 64th minute after Milan Duric had given the hosts a ninth-minute lead, but it was Federico Bonazzoli who had the last laugh as his 79th-minute strike – courtesy of a defensive mishap from Fiorentina’s Igor inside the six-yard box – helped Salernitana claim all three points.

Vincenzo Italiano saw his side’s six-game unbeaten league run come to an end, but with Juventus, Roma and Lazio also failing to win – the latter two losing to Inter Milan and AC Milan respectively – Fiorentina remain sixth in the Serie A standings, seven points behind Juve in fourth with five games remaining.

Fiorentina will be confident of returning to winning ways on Wednesday as they currently boast the second-best home record in Serie A this season, having accumulated 35 points from 16 matches; only Inter Milan (39) have picked up more points on home soil this term.

La Viola also have an impressive home record against Udinese as they have won each of their last 13 Serie A home games against them, only enjoying a longer winning run on their own turf against Cagliari (16) between 1982 and 2010.

With challenging encounters against Milan, Roma and Juventus still to come this season, victory on Wednesday could be vital for Fiorentina if they are secure at least a top-six finish.

Like Fiorentina, Udinese were also a victim of Salernitana’s revitalised form when they suffered a 1-0 home defeat last Wednesday, but they have since responded with a 2-2 draw away at Bologna on Sunday.

Strikes from Destiny Udogie and Isaac Success either side of half time turned the game on its head for Udinese, after Aaron Hickey had given Bologna a sixth-minute lead, but Nicola Sansone’s 59th-minute equaliser ensured both sides shared the spoils in Northern Italy.

Gabriele Cioffi’s side are simply playing for pride in their final five Serie A games of the season as they currently sit 12th in the table, 15 points clear of the relegation zone and 16 points behind the European positions.

Udinese currently have 40 points from 33 league matches and claiming at least a draw on Wednesday would see them better last season’s points tally. Should they claim at least six points from their final five games, then they would better their points tally from each of the previous eight top-flight campaigns.

The Friulians have been a difficult side to beat in recent months, losing only three of their last 13 Serie A matches. They have, however, won only three of their 16 league games away from home so far this season, with only Genoa (one) having won fewer games on the road. Udinese are also seeking their first away victory against Fiorentina since a 2-1 win back in November 2007.

Fiorentina Serie A form:
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Fiorentina form (all competitions):
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Udinese Serie A form:
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We say: Fiorentina 2-0 Udinese
Udinese can head to Florence with no pressure riding on their shoulders, and that could potentially favour the visitors when facing a Fiorentina side desperate to return to winning ways as they seek to keep their top-six hopes alive.

However, the hosts have been in brilliant form on home soil throughout this campaign and they should have enough quality in their side to claim all three points in midweek.

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