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Italy's big guns face off in Florence

Published: Saturday 17 September 2005, 15.22CET
Luca Toni and Vincenzo Iaquinta, Serie A's in-form strikers, face each other on Sunday when ACF Fiorentina and Udinese Calcio meet in Florence.

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Published: Saturday 17 September 2005, 15.22CET

Italy's big guns face off in Florence

Luca Toni and Vincenzo Iaquinta, Serie A's in-form strikers, face each other on Sunday when ACF Fiorentina and Udinese Calcio meet in Florence.
Luca Toni and Vincenzo Iaquinta, Serie A's in-form strikers, face each other on Sunday when ACF Fiorentina and Udinese Calcio meet in Florence.

Fierce fight
Udinese's Iaquinta and Fiorentina's Toni have made outstanding starts to the season, but with fierce competition for places in the Italy squad they know they need to carry on scoring throughout the campaign. Iaquinta hit a hat-trick on his UEFA Champions League debut on Wednesday as Udinese defeated Greek side Panathinaikos FC 3-0. Toni also has a recent treble to his name, having registered three of the Azzurri's goals in their 4-1 FIFA World Cup qualifying win in Belarus. In addition, he has been on target in Fiorentina's two league games this term.

Physical strikers
Both centre-forwards are classic No9s, yet have different qualities. The 28-year-old Toni is more the traditional target man, powerful in the air and inside the penalty area, while the 25-year-old Iaquinta's height disguises the fact he is lightning quick and possesses a deft touch. With AS Livorno Calcio's Cristiano Lucarelli and the AC Milan duo Alberto Gilardino and Christian Vieri also available, national-team coach Marcello Lippi has a number of physical strikers to lead his line, where previously Italy's forwards came in smaller packages.

Big men
Gianfranco Zola, Roberto Baggio, Enrico Chiesa, Giuseppe Signori and Alessandro Del Piero were, or are, forwards reliant on skill and movement, rather than physical presence, but Lippi has appeared willing to pair two big men together. Indeed, Iaquinta has said he does not consider Toni a rival for the Azzurri slot as they could play alongside each other.

'Deeper role'
"I don't see any reason why not. Yes, we are both tall but we have different characteristics. I have played in the past behind a main striker and I can operate in that slightly deeper role as well as right up front," he said, after his headline-grabbing display on Matchday 1.

Ambitious clubs
Sunday's game promises to be a fascinating encounter between two of Serie A's more ambitious clubs. Udinese have started well with two wins from two including last week's impressive victory at AS Roma. Fiorentina beat UC Sampdoria on the opening day before drawing 2-2 at FC Messina Peloro where they lost a two-goal lead.

Prandelli success
The Florence side only avoided relegation on the final day of last term, but have since made several personnel changes and, under new coach Cesare Prandelli, look a more competitive unit. One of the new faces is midfielder Stefano Fiore who made his name with Udinese before moving to S.S. Lazio then Valencia CF.

Juventus on form
Champions Juventus FC, along with Udinese and Livorno, have a 100 per cent record and should extend that run when they host promoted Ascoli Calcio 1898. AC Milan have a tougher test at Sampdoria.

Last updated: 19/09/05 5.14CET

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