Both the hosts and their visitors will be coming into this clash having won their respective fixtures over the weekend. For the Viola, a 2-1 victory over Inter helped them climb back into third place, whilst for Spurs, a 2-1 positive result against Manchester City made sure they remained in second. And with Leicester losing thanks to a last gasp goal from Arsenal, Mauricio Pochettino’s side have now closed the gap on the Foxes to just two points.
Tottenham will also be eager for revenge, as it was Fiorentina who ended their Europa League dreams at this same juncture last season. Despite recording a 1-1 draw at White Hart Lane, they were unable to stop the Tuscan side from clinching a 2-0 victory at the Stadio Artemio Franchi and thus were eliminated 3-1 on aggregate. Still, the London-based side will have to overturn a bad string of results when it comes to facing Serie A sides in European competition – especially when it comes to taking them on in Italy.
This will be Tottenham’s 14th meeting in European competition versus an Italian team; their record so far stands as four wins, four losses, and five draws. Most concerning for Spurs fans will be the fact that all four losses have happened in Italy and their first and only win on Italian soil was back on February 15, 2011. Peter Crouch was the hero of that evening as his goal was enough to down AC Milan 1-0 in the first leg of the round of 16 in the 2010/2011 Champions League.
By contrast, Fiorentina have historically performed well against English teams on home soil. They have picked up four wins out of their last five European games contested at the Stadio Artemio Franchi, and more significant is the fact that not only are they sans a loss in those past quintet of games – including the 2-0 result last season – but also have gone over 450 minutes of action without conceding a goal.
This will surely be put to the test, as they will be welcoming a team boasting the second-best attack in the Premier League and one of the most in-form strikers with Harry Kane having scored 16 in the league and 19 across all competitions. In fact, the last time Pochettino’s squad failed to find the back of the net was on January 13th, when they were defeated 1-0 by this season’s surprise packages Leicester City. Since then, they have been on a seven-match winning streak, including five in the league, and will definitely ask quite a bit of questions of Fiorentina’s back-line.
However, they will be without first-choice goalkeeper Hugo Lloris due to injury, and given that the French international has been an integral part of their impressive defensive performances, the visitors will have to be duly prepared to stem the waves of attack that the Viola will surely throw at them. Paulo Sousa’s side will only be missing Milan Badelj due to injury, whilst Mathias Fernandez, who missed the match against the Nerazzurri due to a ban, will be available for selection.
Will Tottenham finally end their five-year wait for a European win in Italy tomorrow? Or will Fiorentina make it six home games without a defeat against English sides?
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