La Viola was able to return to Florence with a valuable three points after staging a stunning come-from-behind victory against Napoli. Beating the hosts was never going to be easy considering the Partenopei had lost only two home games prior to Fiorentina’s visit. The victory confirmed that the Gigliati are on the right track after beating Bayern Munich 3-2 during the mid-week clash in the Champions League. Unfortunately, the Bavarians went through as a result of the away-goals rule and thanks to some inexplicable officiating errors in the first leg.
Beating Napoli served two main purposes for Coach Cesare Prandelli’s charges, it showed that the players are willing to move on from their unfortunate exit from Europe and that they are determined to stage a fight for a European place before the end of the current Serie A campaign. The Gigliati are currently in tenth place tied with Bari on points, but the significance of beating Napoli derives from the fact that the gap between the two clubs is now down to a manageable three points with the Partenopei in eighth spot.
Stevan Jovetic was once again the protagonist as he played a role in all three goals, including one credited to him, after his brace against Bayern Munich. The rising Montenegrin star appears destined for great things if he remains on the right path and keeps working hard whilst following Prandelli’s advice. Transfer guru Pantaleo Corvino reserved some special praise for the emerging youngster as well as Khouma Babacar, who celebrates his 17th birthday on Wednesday. The young Senegalese came on as a second-half substitute and was impressive against Napoli given his positive contribution to the Gigliati’s equaliser.
Off the pitch the situation seems to be getting increasingly stable, with Prandelli declaring that he would like to stay in Florence for years to come in a laudable show of commitment to the Gigliati cause. The Coach has been attracting attention from a number of sides, the most notable links being to the Italian national team and Juventus, the club he played for during the 1980s. Considering the great attraction which comes with the Azzurri and Bianconeri jobs, Prandelli has clearly sidestepped these rumours and showed he is willing to stay in Florence for the long haul. Championship teams are not built in one season, as shown by some of the great managerial figures of our time, Sir Alex Ferguson at Manchester United being a case in point. Patience, mistakes and early fluctuations in results are all part of the building process. In five seasons Prandelli might not have brought any major trophies, but he has generated excitement, created stability and turned around the fortunes of a once flailing club.
Prandelli has shown he is more than capable of adjusting to tactics imposed by circumstances during matches or even prior to kick-off whether due to injury or suspension. The Gigliati might have struggled in Serie A this season, but they comfortably adjusted to missing the banned Adrian Mutu, with Jovetic the main beneficiary as he continues to exploit the playing time afforded to him. Jovetic may have been a key figure in the victories against both Liverpool and Bayern Munich in Europe, but Prandelli was the mastermind behind these precious results.
If it were not for the dubious calls in Munich, people would be talking about the great achievement of reaching the last eight in the Champions League. As events would have it, Fiorentina would have to settle for a moral victory considering critics, neutral fans and analysts were largely in favour of the Gigliati following the dramatic events in Munich. La Viola did not disappoint and actually proceeded to exact revenge with a 3-2 triumph over the Bavarians. Unfortunately Fiorentina’s defensive line continues to be an area of concern, the frailties being thoroughly exploited by Munich’s two star players, Franck Ribery and Arjen Robben, with the latter in particularly in scintillating form.
The Gigliati still has the opportunity to qualify to the Europa League, with the Champions League looking like a distant possibility. The next few games will offer la Viola the perfect opportunity to go on a mini run which could propel club into the European places. With Prandelli committed to the cause and Jovetic in fine form, it would be hard to bet against the Gigliati putting up a fight for European qualification. The players appear determined to save the season but have set realistic objectives by admitting that the Champions League is looking like an unrealistic target.