Competition: Italian Serie A 2016-17
Date: Monday, 27th February, 19:45 GMT
Stadium: Stadio Artemio Franchi.

Fiorentina vs Torino Preview and Prediction

Paulo Sousa risks the sack when Fiorentina host Torino, as two sides desperate to keep their seasons alive meet on Monday night.

This is a difficult time for the hosts following Thursday night’s remarkable capitulation to Borussia Monchengladbach, speculation rife over the future of Coach Sousa. With European qualification seemingly an insurmountable distance away and early exits from the Europa League and Coppa Italia, Sousa has a job on his hands to keep their season alive.

Just two victories, over lowly Pescara and Udinese, in their last five have seen the hope built through the victory over Juventus evaporate. Despite being the only side unbeaten on home soil this season, as many draws as wins means they’re actually just 10th in the home form table. They have yet to notch back to back home wins, either, a stat they’ll be looking to amend following the 3-0 victory over Udinese a fortnight ago.

Sousa will be looking for more from last season’s talisman Josip Ilicic, who has bagged just a quarter of the goals and half the assists from the last campaign. With Riccardo Saponara finally available to make his full debut following his January arrival from Empoli and the fine form of Federico Bernardeschi, the Slovenia international is expected to be on the bench again.

The aforementioned Bernardeschi is a shining light in an otherwise dim season. Since his conversion to the number 10 role, his influence has grown and nobody on the field Monday night will be in finer form, as he has provided five goals and four assists in his last 10 games in all competition. The return of Nikola Kalinic in front of him also provides hope. The Croatian has nabbed two goals in the four games since his return from injury.

La Viola face a side in a similar position to themselves. Sinisa Mihajlovic’s men lie one place and five points below Fiorentina and are on the back of a miserable 4-1 defeat to Roma last time out. The key problem for Toro has been at the back. Shorn of star defenders Kamil Glik, Nikola Maksimovic and Bruno Peres in the summer, their replacements have yet to meet the required standard. Of the sides outside the relegation zone, only Sassuolo and Cagliari have conceded more than Torino’s 40 goals this season. Toro have also kept just one clean sheet this year with a total of five all term.

The Granata need to improve the spread of goals throughout their squad, as they are far too reliant on Andrea Belotti. His tally of 17 dwarves that of the next highest contributor, Iago Falque with 10 and more than double that of Adem Ljajic on six. It’s a return to their former club for both Ljajic and Coach Mihajlovic.

It’s not been all bad news for Toro, though. If Il Gallo is available, there’s always hope. Belotti has bagged goals against five of the top six sides this season and has history against La Viola, notching from the spot for Palermo in 2015.

Mihajlovic’s men have managed just two points from six away games since beating Crotone in November. With both teams having a point to prove, this is sure to be a keenly fought contest.

Keep an eye on: Andrea Belotti (Torino) – Five goals in five games, Belotti will be looking to continue his quest to be Capocannoniere. Fiorentina have shown a real weakness on set plays and Il Gallo can escape marking like few others.

Form Guide: Fiorentina (L W L W D) Torino (L W D D L)

Last season: Fiorentina 2-0 Torino

Stat fact: Torino haven’t won a Serie A game in Florence since Ciccio Graziani grabbed the only goal in 1976, followed by 12 draws (nine of them goalless) and 14 defeats.

Top tip: Both teams to score. Two leaky defences, two red-hot strikers.

Fiorentina (probable): Tatarusanu; Tomovic, Gonzalo Rodriguez, Astori; Chiesa, Cristoforo, Badelj, Oliveira; Bernardeschi, Borja Valero; Kalinic

Suspended: Vecino

Torino (probable): Hart; Zappacosta, De Silvestri, Moretti, Barreca; Benassi, Valdifiori, Baselli; Iago Falque, Belotti, Ljajic

Suspended: None