Talking football is fun. It's why we're all here. Reading and hearing other people's opinions on the game is a big part of what football fans enjoy about the sport, and we writers are no exception.
So when a match against an opponent that a friend of yours writes about is coming up, well, you sit down and have a chat. This week, with Napoli taking on Fiorentina, we talked to Uros Popovic of Viola Nation, one of our sister sites here at SB Nation. If you want to talk about Fiorentina, Uros is one of the best to go to, and he's long been a good friend to us here at The Siren's Song.
Anyways. Time to sit back and see what the view from the other side is like for this match.
Viola Nation: I think Napoli is getting in form and the fun is ahead of you. As for Fiorentina, there are (of course) a number of factors. It's often overlooked, but Vincenzo Montella has almost never had the full team at his disposal. Mario Gomez and Giuseppe Rossi are almost constantly injured. Some key players, like Borja Valero and Juan Cuadrado, are still trying to find themselves this season, and David Pizarro is a year older. There are also rumors about how the club has already decided long ago to replace Montella at the end of the season - whether it's true or not, the rumors probably do affect the team.
TSS: Mario Gomez and Giuseppe Rossi have obviously spent more time injured than not this season. Fiorentina have managed to keep plugging along, though, thanks in no small part to the success of Khouma Babacar. What's been working for the Senegalese striker this season, since he hadn't found this much success in the past?
VN: He debuted for Fiorentina in 2010, at not even 17 years old. His immense talent was obvious even then. After that, he refused couple of offers for loans in Serie B, and those that he accepted, in La Liga with Santander and Serie B with Padova were failures. It wasn't until last season in Modena, under former Napoli manager Walter Novellino that he finally managed to do something with his talent. Babacar scored 20 goals, which was why Fiorentina activated the buy-back clause. The simplest explanation is - he matured. A couple of Serie B seasons were what he needed. Hopefully, he will continue in the same manner this year.
TSS: The last time these teams faced off, Napoli won 3-1 and lifted the Coppa Italia trophy. What can we expect Fiorentina to do differently in this match to earn a different result?
VN: Those days are ancient history. Fiorentina has to think about what to do different compared to last Sunday. I think Montella needs to give up on using Ilicic as anything else but a sub. He should probably revert back to 3-5-2, as it seems like the best suited formation, at least for now. Or at least a 4-3-3, but in any case, a formation that lets Cuadrado play where he's most effective - on the flank.
Thanks for the intel, Uros! We'll make sure Rafa puts it to good use!