Adrian Mutu was on the name on every ones lips but the reality was that a placid 0-0 draw against Catania leaves La Viola languishing in the bottom half of the table.
The Romanian gave a decent performance and coach Sinisa Mihajlovic was in high spirits of his performance: “Mutu’s return is important, as he played a good match. We knew he would not be able to play an entire 90 minutes, but his characteristics are useful to the side. He has the ability to change a game, and how the team plays. He did enough, but we can still play a lot better in attack.”
A stagnant performance from La Viola just goes to show how much they miss there usual striking prowess. Mutu’s re-emergence gave La Viola new and much needed optimism after a sluggish start to the campaign. Even Mihajlovic, who has come under fire this season, seemed to enjoy the fact the limelight was not on him for once.
Back to back wins have seen the former Inter player’s duration extended but deep down this performance would have not helped his credentials. Defensively Fiorentina were resilient and held their ground well. Mutu even managed to conjure up six of nine shots that were attempted with three going on target. Good match statistics when you reflect upon the nature of the game.
The former Chelsea man was lively and was constantly trying to get involved with everything. He knew that all eyes were upon him. Not playing for three quarters of the year began to take its toll but the passion was there for all to see.
The Rossazzurri started brightly and captain Giuseppe Mascara saw a sublime free kick bounce back off the bar with Sebastian Frey beaten. Despite the home side laying down the marker, La Viola began to gather momentum with Mario Santana providing a cross which Mutu headed goal-wards only for Mariano Andujar to tip round the post. Just two minutes later and the reformed star was doing his best to make sure Andujar was earning his crust as he denied him again.
The rest of the half belonged to Catania as Mascara looked to reap the benefits from his earlier miss fortune. His dead ball attributes were testing La Viola’s backline but Frey was never really in trouble.
The second half started very much like the conclusion of the first with both sides looking content to endure a stalemate. Mihajlovic will be happy that his side has earned a point without ever really getting out of second gear. More damaging news about Riccardo Montolivio as club officials have insisted the Italy international will need surgery before the New Year to cure his unrelenting ankle injury. Despite insisting on playing through the pain barrier the captain has failed to impress this season and his surgery will surely see rehabilitated performances in the future.
As for Mihajlovic’s position the result would not have done him too much damage in terms of his stance. Fiorentina showed a lot of desire to get themselves and the coach out of the rut they find themselves in. Chievo have the chance to unhinge his position further next Sunday but an encouraging performance in Sicily makes the hosts optimistic.
The Flying Donkeys will show no mercy inside the Stadio Artemi Franchi and Mihajlovic must encourage the strong defensive performance which existed at Catania. Mutu will be renewing his debut in a sense when he makes his first home appearance and he will thrive upon running out in front of the home fans.
Adem Ljajic will be chomping at the bit to showcase his talents as he vies to get back into the starting 11. The Serbian has been in good form this season, providing goals and assists. Nonetheless, this weekend’s draw seemed to pass everyone by the encouraging element lies in the fact the players showed grit and determination, something which Mihajlovic was quoted in saying earlier in the season.
There appears to be an air of expectancy amongst the fans as a pivotal moment in Fiorentina’s season. In spite of the dismal start, Mihajlovic is showing a strong grip on the reigns he so tenderly juggled about just a few weeks ago. Their victory over Bari displayed elegance and charm and La Viola faith full will be expecting more of the same.