Juventus boss Massimiliano Allegri feels Fiorentina’s lofty position in Serie A can, in part, be attributed to low expectations at the Stadio Artemio Franchi.
Scudetto holders Juve have recovered from a poor start to win their last five league games and climb to fifth, but remain five points behind the second-placed Viola.
Fiorentina have defied pre-season predictions to mount a serious title challenge – they are just a point behind leaders Inter – and Allegri believes the relatively low forecasts have aided Paulo Sousa’s men.
He told a media conference: “Nobody expected the Viola to be where they are, but they’re fully worthy of their current position.
“Fiorentina is an important game for us. They play good football and are doing very well at the moment.
“They have performed well at home and away this season and possess plenty of skilful players. They can also play without the pressure of title expectations. It will be a tough one.”
Allegri hinted he would be surprised if Fiorentina were still challenging come May, however, adding: “We’ll have a much clearer picture of the Scudetto contenders in March.
“Our aim is to be right among them and a positive result on Sunday would get us ahead of the game in terms of climbing the table.”
Allegri, who confirmed Sami Khedira, Mario Mandzukic, Patrice Evra, Simone Padoin and Simone Zaza are fit and available for the clash at Juventus Stadium, also defended Alvaro Morata despite a record of three goals in 19 games in all competitions for the Bianconeri this season.
“Alvaro has come in for too much criticism,” he said. “He always scores in the Champions League and performed well in [midweek] in Seville.”
Juve host city rivals Torino in the Coppa Italia on Wednesday, but Allegri is adamant his focus is trained solely on Sunday’s league game.
He added: “The derby? No, we’re just thinking about tomorrow’s game as it stands.”