The Florence based club currently lies fifth in Serie A following a positive result against Cagliari over the weekend, yet the team continues to struggle against opposition both home and away. La Viola has yet to register an official away win this season although that only amounts to a total of two away games played in its Serie A and Champions League encounters. More significantly however, the team remains undefeated in all competitions with only the lack of depth on the bench beginning to cause some concern with the long season ahead.
Fiorentina harbors big ambitions for this and the following seasons with the club management trying to make sure the outfit from Tuscany will become a regular fixture in the Champions League by constantly finishing in Serie A’s top four. However, with a lack of alternatives in certain positions and a major distraction caused by the Adrian Mutu affair, it would not be too hard to bet against everything unraveling for Florence club. At the moment, Viola fans can enjoy the positive start to the season with their team having achieved a second home win in the league. Striker Alberto Gilardino, an enigma for Italy on the international scene, found the back of the net against Cagliari and continues to prove that he can score regularly at club level. Gilardino has often delivered in Serie A, with the exception being his stint with Milan, yet he seems to struggle in getting on the score sheet for the Azzurri. With Romanian Mutu having to deal with niggling injuries and, of greater concern, his legal standoff with English club Chelsea which now expects him to pay a hefty compensation of £14.6m, the pressure will mount on young prodigy Stevan Jovetic to deliver on a more regular basis. The attacker from Montenegro has impressed so far this season but it will be too much to expect a 19-year-old to carry the load of scoring and creating the team’s opportunities over the course of the season. He is definitely a star for the future if he maintains his progress and will have a positive impact on la Viola’s current campaign but to expect more would be too much at this stage.
Coach Cesare Prandelli was able to sign reinforcements with holding midfielder Cristiano Zanetti – a former Italy international – and winger Marco Marchionni – recently called up by Azzurri Coach Marcello Lippi – both making the move from Juventus prior to the start of the season. However, the team’s defensive department seems to be an area which has been causing concern for Prandelli. The well-respected Tactician has singled out Real Madrid’s Christoph Metzelder as one player he would like to sign during the January transfer window. Metzelder has attracted interest from a host of clubs and his playing time with los Galacticos will continue to diminish since he does not appear to be part of Coach Manuel Pellegrini’s plans following the arrivals of Raul Albiol and Alvaro Arbeloa. The international defender is looking to secure his place in Germany’s World Cup squad and will probably welcome the move to the Stadio Artemio Franchi yet Fiorentina must fend off rumoured interest from the likes of German giants Bayern Munich.
Going back to the pitch, Fiorentina was able to secure a valuable 1-0 win over the Sardinian club Cagliari. The manner of the victory must have pleased Prandelli who went out of his way to credit the patience of the players for achieving the result yet deep inside he must be concerned with the team’s inability to put away weaker clubs with relative ease. This becomes even more disconcerting when considering the Rossoblu’s failure to score from open play this season while obtaining a single point. Fiorentina started with Gilardino supported by Jovetic upfront while Riccardo Montolivo and Marchionni as well as Zanetti and Juan Vargas suppling the ammunition for them to rattle the net. The trusted Sebastien Frey was in goal, protected by usual suspects Alessandro Gamberini, Manual Pasqual, Dairo Dainelli and Gianluca Comotto. The team lined up in a 4-2-3-1 formation which can be fluid enough to change to 4-5-1 or even 4-4-1-1. Currently, Fiorentina has alternatives in midfield and can manage if its Romanian forward Mutu is not banned due to the Chelsea debacle and if he is able to focus on playing for the club with all the distractions from the case. Once again, it is the back-line that will need reinforcements since an injury or suspension to Gamberini will deprive the team from one of its defensive pillars. That is why the crafty Prandelli has singled out German Metzelder and is still rumoured to be eyeing Boca Juniors centre-back Ezequiel Munoz after swooping for Lazio’s full-back Lorenzo De Silvestri.
On Wednesday, Fiorentina will begin the group stage of the Champions League with a baptism of fire in France against former champions Lyon. The French club might have lost Karim Benzema to los Blancos but they have found a more than adequate replacement in the form of Argentine Lisandro Lopez. It will be a stern test for Fiorentina’s European credentials and will provide Coach Prandelli with a better idea of his team’s weaknesses, particularly in defense. La Viola kept clean sheets in both of its home games but the opponents were not elite teams. It will also serve as a litmus test for the emerging Jovetic. The young gun will be raring to showcase his talent in the world’s premier club competition.
Fiorentina Club Focus
Viola continue to grind out results – September 15, 2009