With just one day to go until Fiorentina’s crunch game with Lazio, Alessandro Gamberini has declared himself fit to face Edy Reja’s team. The defender said: “I have worked well and the medical staff have helped a lot. I am fine now and ready to go.” The news will come as a major relief to La Viola fans, who are still waiting for their first league win of the season. That said, defensively, Fiorentina have been operating to a sufficient standard but it is primarily goals the team lack. After the defeat to Lecce on the weekend, Coach Sinisa Mihajlovic had bemoaned about his team’s inability to finish teams off but Gamberini insists it is only a matter of time before Fiorentina come up trumps:“It’s clear that Mihajlovic’s predecessor, Cesare Prandelli, is a different character . In any case, whatever the Coach asks for, we do our best to oblige. I hear this team lacks a true leader which sounds rather odd as right now we are confident Mihajlovic is playing that role to the best of his abilities”. The gist of Gamberini’s words seems to confirm that the mood of the players is still very high and everybody is staying positive: there are greater things to come and a turning point might just be around the corner.
However, things like this are easier said than done, so it is down to Mihajlovic to make sure the squad really feels his presence at the Stadio Artemi Franchi. It is evident Mihajlovic adopts a more ‘gritty’ approach than that of Prandelli. Maybe the players are still adjusting to his methods and ideas but on Saturday something needs to give. With goals lacking, La Viola fans will be happy to hear that Romanian striker Adrian Mutu has returned to training although he is unable to feature until October due to a drugs ban. Up until then, it looks as if Alberto Gilardino will be relied upon more than ever as Montenegrin striker Steven Jovetic is still months away from a return. It will be interesting to see how Gilardino copes with the pressure of being the main ‘goal-getter.’
One player who will probably not feature is former Udinese star Gaetano D’Agostino. The Italian is nursing a knee injury and looks set to be replaced by Adem Ljajic. It comes as a blow to Mihajlovic because D’Agostino is one of few players to come out with any credit after the first two games. He scored on his debut and was adjusting to his role of supplying the ammunition to Gilardino. Peruvian international Juan Manual Vargas returns after serving his one game suspension and is set to go straight in to the left hand side of midfield. The elegant winger’s return will be another boost to Mihajlovic and he will look to expose the Lazio defence with his telling runs and tight-knit dribbling, something which was missing against Lecce.
Therefore, Mihajlovic has to juggle his team around again and the tasty looking fixture against Lazio looks set to make or break his season. A defeat to Reja’s team will not spell the end of Mihajlovic’s short reign but the fans will become seriously impatient if they are derelict in front of goal and passionless all over the park. Mihajlovic is likely to stick to a 4-4-2 formation, with Ljajic playing in the ‘Rooney’ role just behind Gilardino. The former Yugoslavian international must give Ljajic a license to roam and torment the Lazio back line if they are to be successful in their quest for goals.
As Gamberini himself seems to suggest, it is surely a matter of time before La Viola taste some success. However, there is no doubt that adapting to Mihajlovic’s methods is taking longer than expected. The former free-kick specialist may well be having sleepless nights in the run-up to the game. Nonetheless, players such as Ricardo Montolivio, Vargas, Gilardino and Gamberini need to ease the Coach’s suffering if they are to reach their own goals of securing Champions League football. Fiorentina have the advantage of not playing in Europe this season, so there can be no excuse of fatigue: it all boils down to the players and Coach. Come Saturday night, expect to see swash-buckling drama of the highest level as La Viola vie to record that all-important first win.