Alberto Gilardino was once again the savior for la Nazionale after firing a late hat-trick to spare Coach Marcello Lippi’s blushes. The Italy Tactician replaced his entire starting lineup in a move that almost backfired against Cyprus in Parma. Coach Lippi’s choices might have stirred some controversy but there is no doubting the Gigliati striker’s fine form. Gilardino secured the Azzurri’s qualification to South Africa days ago and then made sure the national team finished the qualifiers undefeated whilst booking his ticket to the World Cup barring any injury.
While Gilardino was starring for Italy, his club-mate Alessandro Gamberini endured a horror show characterised by fatal errors leading to both of the goals scored by Cyprus. It is increasingly looking unlikely the player will be more than a cameo inclusion as cover for captain Fabio Cannavaro and Giorgio Chiellini. Actually, Gamberini’s spot in the final roster might be in jeopardy following this horror show, with emerging players Davide Santon, Domenico Criscito, and Salvatore Boccheti all now appearing to have a better chance than Fiorentina’s defender. Both Criscito and Boccheti have played as left-backs for the Azzurri, yet have actually played as centre-backs at club level.
Despite Gamberini’s poor performance, Coach Cesare Prandelli must be privately salivating at the prospect of linking again the on-form Gilardino with emerging prodigy Stevan Jovetic as Fiorentina tackle Juventus in Turin in quite a difficult match up. The Montenegrin international Jovetic has been an inspiration for his teammates and the tifosi will be looking to him to create havoc amongst Juve’s defenders. The return of Juve’s Cannavaro should add some steel and leadership to a defence that has been shaky and leaking goals since his absence due to injury. Cannavaro will form, with fellow Azzurri hard-man Chiellini, a strong partnership which will in all likelihood be severely tested by the Gigliati’s attacking pair. Another interesting showdown could see Fiorentina’s Cristiano Zanetti and former la Viola anchorman Felipe Melo fight to stamp their authority on the midfield, in what can be deemed as a crucial measuring stick for the team seeking to have an advantage during the game.
Brazilian maestro Diego will be one player Fiorentina Coach Prandelli must keep a close eye on and it will not be surprising if Zanetti is tasked with maintaining close proximity to the Brazilian star. Diego had a great start to the season before a drop in form as a result of injuries also coincided with the Bianconeri’s struggles. It comes as no surprise that Coach Ciro Ferrara will be hoping his star player will be fully recovered so he can once again terrorize opposing defenses through his defence-splitting passes, great vision, trademark runs from midfield and goal scoring exploits. In goal, both Fiorentina and the Old Lady have quality custodians in the shape of Sebestien Frey and Gianluigi Buffon respectively. Frenchman Frey has had an outstanding start to the season while the Azzurri goalkeeper’s early form has many critics and experts referring to Buffon once again as the world’s best in his position.
On paper, the two teams have plenty of quality but the difference maker could be the ability of Gilardino and Jovetic to exploit any of Juve’s weaknesses, particularly on the right flank where Czech Zdenek Grygera usually starts. On the flip side, the fitness and performance of the Bianconeri’s midfield, in specific Brazilian duo Diego and Melo, will play a significant role in the outcome of the match. La Viola must be aware of Coach Ferrara’s insistence on obtaining a win and his squad’s hunger to rediscover the taste of victory. A win for Juventus will create some space between the club and Fiorentina while a defeat will spark talks of crisis in Turin.
On the Gigliati side, the positive mood and the high morale have been evident in various comments by Fiorentina players such as Adrian Mutu and midfielder Marco Donadel who claim the team does not feel inferior to their opponents and that there is no fear in la Viola’s locker room. Riccardo Montolivo took matters a step further by declaring that Zanetti is better than Brazilian Melo. The Italy midfielder praised Zanetti as a great reader of the game while telling il Nuovo Corriere that the Brazilian midfielder, who left this summer to Turin, uses his physical attributes to cover other deficiencies. Montolivo’s bold remarks will be put to the test this weekend during the much anticipated clash between both outfits. If the Bianconeri’s Amauri can finally break his goal drought and Gilardino continues his goal scoring exploits, then some fireworks are in store for the tifosi.
Fiorentina Club Focus
Viola continue to grind out results – September 15, 2009
La Viola lose Gilardino and the points – September 18, 2009
Fatigue catching up with la Viola – September 22, 2009
Della Valle Resigns as Fiorentina triumph over Sampdoria – September 25, 2009
La Viola finally win away as De Silvestri makes debut – September 29, 2009
The beginning of the Jovetic era in Florence? – October 2, 2009
Two points lost and a wasted opportunity – October 6, 2009
Good news all round – October 9, 2009
International Week (Republic of Ireland-Italy, Italy-Cyprus)
Transfer rumours abound as Gilardino fires la Nazionale to South Africa – October 13, 2009
Gilardino shines again as la Viola eye the Bianconeri’s scalp – October 16, 2009