The 2014-15 Serie A season will start off with a bang, as AS Roma prepares to host Fiorentina at the Stadio Olimpico on Saturday.
The Giallorossi have title aspirations coming into the new season, but Vincenzo Montella and his Viola squad always present a difficult matchup for any of the top clubs.
Both squads are supremely talented and eager to start the new season with a win, so fans should expect plenty of fireworks when these two teams go at it on Saturday.
Date: Saturday, August 30
Time: 7.45 p.m. BST/2:45 p.m. ET
Venue: Stadio Olimpico, Rome
TV info and live stream: The match will be broadcast on BT Sport 1 (for UK viewers) and BeIN Sports USA (for US viewers), with mobile coverage available via the BT Sport app and the BeIN Sports USA app.
Fiorentina's pre-season preparations went smoothly, and following the news star winger Juan Cuadrado will not be leaving the club, optimism is high in the Viola ranks.
Montella confirmed the news of Cuadrado's transfer fate in front of the press while indicating he's not willing to dwell on his club's past performances against the Giallorossi, as reported by Football Italia:
I am happy, very happy indeed that Cuadrado is staying with us. Juan is an important player for this club.
Tomorrow is the start of a new season full of expectation. Now it’s down to what we do on the pitch, not the words in the Press. We have a lot of belief though. Now we have to turn that into a positive to take on to the pitch.
We’ve struggled in the past against Roma – that’s for everyone to see. We can’t change that. But what we can change is the future. Roma are a strong team, who did well last year and have strengthened even further. But I’m confident in my lads.
La Viola will be without Cuadrado, who is suspended, and star striker Giuseppe Rossi, who is still recovering from a knee injury. The American-born Italian has struggled with injuries in the past, and his absence is a tremendous loss for Fiorentina.
Mario Gomez's first season with the Italian club didn't go as planned, and big things are expected from the German international in 2014-15. The veteran will feature as Fiorentina's go-to guy with Rossi out of the starting XI, and La Viola need him to re-establish himself as a top striker during the upcoming season.
Gianluca Di Marzio's David Amoyal thinks that's exactly what he'll do:
Here are some players I'm picking to have a bounce back season: Ilicic, Quagliarella, Kucka, Biglia, Mario Gomez, Bonaventura, Obiang— David Amoyal (@DavidAmoyal) August 29, 2014
La Viola were able to keep hold of their top star rumoured to be leaving the club, but the same can't be said for the Giallorossi. Mehdi Benatia was arguably the top centre-back in Italy over the past two seasons, but in 2014-15, he'll be suiting up for Bayern Munich, per FOX Soccer:
With his departure, Roma face a bit of a defensive crisis. Leandro Castan missed the bulk of pre-season with an injury, and he's unlikely to be fit in time for the clash against Fiorentina. Maicon and Federico Balzaretti also won't feature, per Gianluca Di Marzio's Enrico Passarella:
Roma will be without Strootman (knee), Balzaretti (thigh), Castan and Maicon (minor muscular injuries)— Enrico Passarella (@Guardalinee) August 29, 2014
Ashley Cole and Urby Emanuelson both arrived during the summer, but neither has looked particularly convincing in pre-season. Davide Astori and Kostas Manolas have no experience playing together in the centre whatsoever, so defensively, the visitors could be in trouble.
Luckily, it's on the other end of the pitch the Giallorossi truly shine. Francesco Totti is an ageless wonder, and the triangle of Miralem Pjanic, Gervinho and Mattia Destro should be among the very best in Europe in 2014-15.
And we haven't even mentioned new signing Juan Manuel Iturbe yet. The Argentine wunderkind was arguably Roma's capture of the summer window, and fans will be eager to see what he can do against Fiorentina's deep midfield unit.
Radja Nainggolan and Daniele De Rossi will be tasked with shielding the defence from the incisive passing of Borja Valero, and this match will likely be won by whoever controls the battle in the centre of the pitch.