A comfortable win over strugglers Atalanta on Sunday, with usual suspects Juan Manuel Vargas and Alberto Gilardino providing telling contribution as they got on the score sheet, provides a perfect warm-up for what will be the club’s biggest away trip in Europe to date, even if it is a dead-rubber. Besides the valuable three Serie A points which will come in handy with the fight for the remaining lucrative Champions League spot intensifying, the Gigliati welcomed their emerging young prodigy Stevan Jovetić from injury.
The returning Montenegrin has been a decisive influence and la Viola’s defining moment this season was largely down to his well-taken brace against Liverpool, which essentially paved the way for the Tuscan side to reach the round of 16 in Europe. Jovetić did not score against Atalanta and will probably need time to hit top form again but he did assist the Vargas strike. Coach Cesare Prandelli will be hoping Jovetić will gradually build up his fitness to get back into playing shape to tackle important games as the season enters a critical phase.
League leaders Inter, followed by Milan and Juventus, are starting to distance themselves from the rest of the division leaving fourth spot as the optimal prize for clubs to chase. It will be a heated race with Parma, currently in fourth, along with Fiorentina, Roma, Genoa, Sampdoria and Napoli all separated by just two points. Considering how the season has progressed, the most likely candidates for fourth place will come from Fiorentina and Roma with Parma quite impressive in their start to the campaign. The two Genovese sides and Napoli have been too inconsistent and unless they put in a solid run will likely have to settle for a top 10 finish. The Giallorossi, with Francesco Totti and Daniele De Rossi, remain the biggest threat while the Ducali have relied on team spirit, a blend of experienced and young players as well as relative consistency.
Prandelli will need Jovetić back to his best in order to beat the competition for the last qualifying Champions League spot. He will keep relying on Gilardino’s goals and Vargas’s marauding runs and long-distance shots until Romanian star Adrian Mutu also returns from injury and Jovetić has completely recovered. The other key absentee, defender Alessandro Gamberini, will likely feature again before the end of the year against Milan or return in early 2010. The calculating Prandelli is unlikely to risk him at Anfield against Liverpool as they have already qualified, despite the need to secure first position in the group to avoid stronger opponents in the knockout round.
The January transfer window is looming and the Coach is likely to bring in some much needed reinforcements with several names being thrown around by the Italian Press and European media. Fiorentina’s shrewd director Pantaleo Corvino has kept a rather vague stance about potential signings in an attempt to avoid the risk of losing targets to competition and to steer away from price wars over candidates. One name continuously linked with the club is Ezequiel Muñóz, who reportedly is on the verge of completing a summer move to Florence after finishing the next six months of the season with Boca Juniors. The Argentine defender is rumoured to have said he is near joining Fiorentina despite a few remaining glitches to deal with. Muñóz has been a target of Spanish giants Real Madrid if reports in the Spanish Press are to be taken seriously. Corvino opted for silence as opposed to issuing unnecessary statements as signings can only be made official in January, but he did not deny the reports of the player’s imminent move to Fiorentina which implies his transfer could soon become a reality.
Coach Prandelli has had to rely on the scoring exploits of Gilardino, the amazing reflexes of goalkeeper Sebastien Frey, the raw talent of Jovetić, the drive of Vargas and the pace of Marco Marchionni while Mutu has been inconsistent due to his legal problems with Chelsea and a spate of injuries. Prandelli’s guile and willingness to rotate as well as deal with imposed changes to the lineup have shown once again highlighted his invaluable tactical awareness. It is unfair to compare him to the Coaches of elite clubs like Inter and Milan because they have a bigger budget and deeper squads, but it comes as no surprise to see Cesare Prandelli’s name linked time and again with the Azzurri post once the legendary Marcello Lippi vacates it. The Coach has had to deal with injuries to several very important players this year. Next up for Prandelli and his troops is Anfield and perhaps another date with history.
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
La Viola’s resistance broken from the penalty spot – December 1, 2009
Must-win game to remain close to Champions League spots – December 4, 2009
Race for fourth continues as Fiorentina travel to Anfield – December 8, 2009