Coach Cesare Prandelli took time to describe the euphoria a day after earning qualification as FIFA.com reported the astute Tactician told Sky he considers the moment as the greatest in his coaching career.
Prandelli led his charges to the last 16 of the Champions League for the first time in the club’s history under the competition’s restructured format. The glorious evening was capped by a Juan Manual Vargas penalty as la Viola inched past Lyon 1-0 to take charge of the group, eliminate Liverpool and consequently bring in considerable funds due to qualification. According to ANSA.it the successful European campaign has yielded around €25 million in revenue up to this stage.
La Viola took the honour of becoming Italy’s first representative to go through as fellow Italian clubs Inter, Milan and Juventus all remain uncertainties after a stuttering round of results. The Gigliati went through despite missing the likes of Stevan Jovetic and Adrian Mutu upfront and Alessandro Gamberini in defence, which makes the victory all the more impressive. The display was not a clinical one and Lyon had already qualified from the group but those are not decisive enough to slight Fiorentina’s overall performance, which met Prandelli’s objectives of pulling through at all costs.
French goalkeeper Sebastien Frey had a relatively calm night early on only to spring to life and ensure all three points with a convincing series of saves from Lisandro Lopez and Miralem Pjanic, as well as parrying Jean Makoun’s shot during the last 15 minutes of the encounter. The Frenchman continues to prove his worth to the side and is displaying great qualities, which once again prove France’s Raymond Domenech has lost his marbles when it comes to his team selection, including his baffling decision to overlook a quality custodian such as Frey.
The celebrations must be put on hold however as the Florence side will travel to play league leaders Inter on Sunday in what can be a season defining clash, as a victory for the Tuscan club will confirm Prandelli’s squad has the necessary credentials to compete for one of the top three spots. The shrewd Coach has set the bar high at the Stadio Artemio Franchi, and the passionate tifosi will have higher expectations as la Viola’s players continue to achieve respectable results on the domestic and European fronts. Prandelli seems to be a capable motivator and the results speak clearly in his favour as Fiorentina often bounced back after suffering a defeat.
The loss to Parma was painful as the two sides have been competing for advanced positions this season. The welcome return of Alessandro Gamberini should further boost the team’s morale as he offers solid shelter for Frey and forms a coherent defensive unit with skipper Dario Dainelli. His reported return was mentioned on Firenzeviola.it and it remains to be seen whether Montenegrin star Jovetic will be able to feature during this important clash. Romanian Mutu remains sidelined so Alberto Gilardino is expected to lead the line on his own with wingers Marco Marchionni and Juan Manuel Vargas offering support.
On the transfer front, the latest shocking rumour linked Milan’s Gennaro Gattuso with a move to Florence only for his agent Andrea D’Amico to dismiss these claims as pure fantasy when he told Tuttomercatoweb.com his client will not be joining the Gigliati. It is interesting to see a midfielder such as Gattuso who would perhaps operate in the same role as Cristiano Zanetti be mentioned as a possible transfer to Florence. Coach Prandelli’s squad is not lacking in terms of midfielders as Zanetti, Riccardo Montolivo, Marco Donadel, Martin Jorgensen, Mario Alberto Santana, Marchionni and Vargas can all play in a crowded midfield area.
The side is most lacking upfront as Jovetic and Mutu continue to struggle with injuries while the defensive department does require reinforcements with no quality alternatives for either Dainelli or Gamberini. Solid players must be brought in to add depth to the squad and enable Prandelli to successfully rotate his starting lineup as Fiorentina remains competitive on three fronts – the Italian league and cup as well the Champions League. The Coppa Italia perhaps offers the tifosi the best opportunity to celebrate some silverware this season and the club will be taking on Chievo next after the Flying Donkeys eliminated Frosinone in the fourth round.
In the meantime, all eyes will be on this weekend’s penultimate clash against the Nerazzuri in Milan. Fiorentina’s players will want to prove the side can match the best in Italy and Prandelli is likely devising a plan to counter Jose Mourinho’s strategy at the Giuseppe Meazza.
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
La Viola holds firm against Juventus – October 20, 2009
Crucial win over Debrecen, Manchester United prepare bid for Jovetić? – October 23, 2009
La Viola going through a rough patch – October 30, 2009
Marchionni brace completes Fiorentina rebound – November 3, 2009
Prandelli and co. march on against Debrecen – November 6, 2009
La Viola edge Udinese as Marchionni and Montolivo earn Azzurri recall – November 10, 2009
Vargas to stay as Prandelli praises Jovetic – November 20, 2009
Injuries taking their toll as Lyon clash looms – November 24, 2009
la Viola through to the round of 16 in Europe – November 28, 2009