While the Viola have won five and lost five so far this season, their Ligurian visitors are among the sides battling at the bottom of the table, with just two wins from their first 10 games.
After a promising start to the 2021-22 season under new manager Vincenzo Italiano, a series of setbacks has slowed Fiorentina's ascent up the Serie A standings - with the latest coming against Lazio on Wednesday.
The Tuscan side were beaten by Pedro's second-half strike in a game of few clear-cut chances at Stadio Olimpico, leaving them eighth in the table with the same number of wins as losses and an equal tally of goals for and against.
Though they previously made light work of Cagliari in a 3-0 win last weekend, and now face lowly Spezia, Fiorentina have to face both Juventus and Milan in their next three fixtures, so maintaining their improvement on last term's lacklustre campaign will not come easily.
As they return to home soil on Sunday, the Viola have lost two of their last three Serie A matches at the Franchi, so cannot be complacent when pitched against lower-ranked opposition who they turned over with ease upon Spezia's first top-flight visit to the legendary Florentine venue.
With star striker Dusan Vlahovic opening the scoring on that occasion last February, Fiorentina ran out 3-0 winners over a side then managed by their current coach, and both clubs successfully went on to avoid the drop.
However, under Italiano and the ownership of outspoken owner Rocco Commisso, the Viola's sights are trained much higher than such mediocrity this year, so victory this weekend is a must.
Having lost again at the weekend and picked up just three points from their previous five fixtures, Spezia were keen to boost their modest tally at the expense of a relegation rival when they met Genoa on Tuesday.
However, a late Domenico Criscito penalty denied Thiago Motta's men a precious victory at Stadio Alberto Picco, and they remain 17th in the table - just above their midweek visitors, who occupy a place in the relegation zone.
With only that solitary point to show from a pair of Ligurian derbies - as Spezia had previously lost 2-1 at Sampdoria - the Aquilotti are struggling to replicate their impressive top-tier debut of last season.
There have been signs of life, though, as Spezia were the dominant force against Genoa but were unable to kill the game due to several spurned chances, and they also pushed both Juventus and Milan close at the tail-end of last month.
Nonetheless, they have lost twice as many games in the first quarter of the current campaign as they did last term, under the popular Italiano.
Spezia have also leaked goals at an alarming rate away from home, conceding an average of three per game so far. Therefore, an unlikely win over their old boss would come as a welcome tonic this weekend.
Vincenzo Italiano was forced to reshuffle his Fiorentina team for the trip to Rome in midweek, as winger Nicolas Gonzalez tested positive for COVID-19 on the eve of the game, and the summer signing from Stuttgart sits Sunday's match out as well.
Erick Pulgar (ankle) and first-choice goalkeeper Bartlomiej Dragowski (hamstring) will also be missing for the hosts, and in the latter's continued absence, Pietro Terracciano continues as the Viola's last line of defence.
In midfield, Gaetano Castrovilli may drop out, having been a pale shadow of his former self upon returning to the team after injury - he was substituted for Giacomo Bonaventura in midweek and the pair could swap places on Sunday.
Spezia, meanwhile, benefited from the return to fitness of on-loan winger Ebrima Colley after an injury layoff in midweek, though his goal was subsequently attributed to Genoa goalkeeper Salvatore Sirigu.
The Gambia international is now a contender to start ahead of fellow youngster David Strelec for the away side, and M'Bala Nzola - who has struggled for goals in recent months - should start at centre-forward.
Kevin Agudelo, midfielders Mehdi Bourabia and Leo Sena, and defensive mainstay Martin Erlic are among those doubtful to participate in Florence, with injury-hit Spezia failing to name a full complement of players on the bench twice in recent days.
Fiorentina possible starting lineup:
Terracciano; Venuti, Milenkovic, Nastasic, Biraghi; Bonaventura, Torreira, Duncan; Sottil, Vlahovic, Saponara
Spezia possible starting lineup:
Provedel; Ferrer, Hristov, Nikolaou, Bastoni; Maggiore, Kovalenko; Colley, Verde, Gyasi; Nzola
We say: Fiorentina 2-1 Spezia
Fiorentina will certainly have the measure of opponents who have regressed since last term's impressive arrival on the Serie A stage - particularly with their manager having the inside track on his former Spezia side.
For that reason, the Viola will continue their record of having posted no draws so far this season and pick up a valuable three points before tougher tests to come.
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