The Gigliati put on a finishing clinic as they successfully brushed aside a struggling Udinese team which has yet to win a Serie A match outside the Stadio Friuli. Entering the game, the Fiorentina players knew the club could not afford to drop many more points as the battle for the coveted final Champions League spot intensified.
Fiorentina however, are rank outsiders in the race for fourth. Despite impressive recent form, the Gigliati remain in eighth place – tied with Genoa on points – two spaces outside the Europe League qualification zone. La Viola still have an opportunity to progress in the Coppa Italia provided they can overcome league leaders Inter in the return leg of the semi-finals. This does not appear to be out of reach as Coach Cesare Prandelli’s charges are finally finding some form, despite the lack of consistency away from home that has typified their stop-start campaign.
In the past week, a great deal of attention has centered upon the future of the highly regarded Prandelli who is reportedly being pursued by Juventus. The Coach appeared unhappy when faced with the comments made by Fiorentina’s president but the situation has been somewhat rectified by the declaration made through transfer guru Pantaleo Corvino. The Gigliati director stated the president and the club value Prandelli and want him to stick around for years to come – a clear rebuttal of purported Juventus interest and an approbate of the job Prandelli has performed so far. The European exploits of la Viola, reaching the semi-finals in the Coppa Italia and masterminding some of the club’s better performances against the elite teams have all allowed Prandelli to build an attractive portfolio. While this season’s performances in Serie A have been inconsistent, Prandelli has been able to use his expertise and wily tactics to regularly stifle opponents – this in spite of the gamut of injuries suffered by the likes of Stevan Jovetic, Cristiano Zanetti, Marco Marchionni and Juan Manuel Vargas. The club also sidestepped the controversial issues stemming from troubled striker Adrian Mutu’s legal wrangle with Chelsea and his January ban due to the misuse of substances.
Considering all the aforementioned factors and the congestion in fixture with la Viola competing on multiple fronts, the results achieved by Prandelli appear to be quite remarkable. Of far greater concern to the Gigliati management are the growing rumours of the Bianconeri’s desire to lure Vargas and perhaps even Alberto Gilardino to Turin. Juventus might have signaled out Giampaolo Pazzini and Antonio Cassano as potential targets but a move for Prandelli could see the Old Lady make a move for a number of stars in Florence. The savvy Prandelli has shown time and again his ability to balance rigid tactics and the nuanced ability of the players employed, not to mention his prowess at nurturing up and coming talents such as Jovetic. The Montenegrin sensation has been well sheltered under the Coach’s guidance and has been able to focus on his training and improvement as opposed to dealing with other distractions or falling prey to the lure of playing for a bigger club at this early stage of his career.
The case of Khouma Babacar proves Prandelli’s worth as the Tactician is carefully allowing the emerging Senegalese to get accustomed to playing for the first-time. Babacar was impressive against Napoli and scored most recently yet was an unused substitute against the visitors last weekend. Prandelli is a master motivator and able to use the psychological aspects to his advantage as he looks to keep Babacar grounded and avoid causing early burn out for the 17-year-old prospect.
Elsewhere at the club, French goalkeeper Sebastien Frey has spoken about his desire to stick with Fiorentina and his appreciation for the club and the Tifosi who have shown him much appreciation in the last couple of seasons. The talented shot-stopper has been one of the success stories of the season and has once again established himself as a reliable custodian for the Gigliati. Fiorentina will now have to focus on overcoming a tricky trip to Parma, one which could decide the fate of their European qualification. A win is a must for Prandelli’s charges.