Serie A Betting: Fiorentina v Catania



Vincenzo Montella never had second thoughts about joining Fiorentina this summer. Neither did Alberto Aquilani, Borja Valero, nor David Pizarro. The goalkeeper Emiliano Viviano positively leapt at the chance to return to the city where he grew up, and to represent the club which he had supported as a boy.

Dimitar Berbatov, in other words, was the exception, not the rule. The Bulgarian might have captured international headlines with the last-minute change of heart that saw him pick the Thames over Tuscany – leaving Fiorentina directors raging about plane tickets already purchased – but the truth is that this was still a productive summer for La Viola. The club appointed a young, talented manager and brought plenty of new faces to a squad in need of a fresh start.

“That he made the wrong choice,” was Montella’s quick-fire response when asked by La Repubblica this week what he would say to Berbatov were they ever to meet. Having played for Fulham himself, the new Fiorentina manager might also point out that, unlike so many others, he was speaking from a position of genuine experience.

Not that Montella is dwelling on it. The manager is more than happy with his lot at Fiorentina and with good reason. A team which flirted with relegation last season has already shown itself to be an altogether different proposition during their opening two games of this campaign – a 2-1 win over Udinese then a defeat by the same scoreline away to Napoli in which Fiorentina deserved more.

That is partly down to Montella, who has lightened the mood at a club where unruly players and angry fans had rendered it far too dark. It is also down to the club’s many new signings. Valero and Pizarro have already impressed in midfield, while others such as Juan Cuadrado and Mattia Cassani have also contributed. Perhaps more important than any new arrival, however, the club also kept hold of Stevan Jovetic.

“There was a possibility that he was going to leave, but he’s an intelligent lad,” said Montella of the Montenegrin forward, who was sought by clubs including Juventus this summer. “One day I said to him: 'Stevan, we’re having fun here and that’s going to do you and your future good.’ But maybe he had already worked that out.”

Responsible for all three of his team’s league goals so far this season, Jovetic certainly seems to be enjoying himself and it is he who Catania will need to contain if they are to keep Fiorentina in check. Given that the Sicilian side have conceded 13 goals in their last six away games dating back to last season – with no clean sheets – he seems a good bet to add at least one more here.

It will be a strange occasion for Catania having Montella – who last season led them to their best points tally ever in Serie A – as an opponent. But so far the signs are positive under his successor Rolando Maran. The team is coming off an impressive season-opening draw away to Roma and a win over Genoa.  Given that those two games involved a total of nine goals, a punt on more than 2.5 in this game might also make sense at 1.90.

Fiorentina have not lost any of the last seven editions of this match, and with Montella boasting the added advantage of a personal familiarity with his former charges they will not expect to do so on this occasion either. But with Fiorentina’s defence still getting used to each other following new additions in that department, too, a high-scoring draw seems distinctly possible.

Score prediction: Fiorentina 2-2 Catania