This Saturday the Stadio Artemio Franchi will take centre stage in Italy as la Viola play host to second-place Milan in what should be an intriguing clash between two of the three Italian clubs remaining in the Champions League.
While the Gigliati have certainly surprised the pundits after their five-game winning streak in Europe, the Rossoneri struggled and only made it through courtesy of Real Madrid’s win in Marseille. Both sides suffered a surprising defeat last week in Serie A so they will set out to achieve the three points in order to improve their standing prior to the winter break. La Viola are mired in a challenging contest for fourth place as eight teams are competing with Fiorentina to dispossess surprise package Parma from the lucrative fourth spot before the end of the season. Coach Cesare Prandelli will be aiming to outsmart his inexperienced counterpart Leonardo in what should be a close match considering how both teams have done in recent weeks. Prandelli’s concerns are mostly with injuries since several first-team players have been carrying knocks or missing from action due to injury.
Defensive anchorman Alessandro Gamberini has yet to recover and his absence was clearly felt against Catania as Prandelli has no alternatives of the same caliber on his bench. Winger Marco Marchionni limped off last weekend while young prodigy Stevan Jovetic is still short on match fitness and may not be risked. The Montenegrin made it clear he is itching to play yet it will depend on his ankle’s condition as the Coach would not want to risk losing the promising player for a longer stretch. At best Jovetic will come off the bench if his contribution is needed. Long-term absentee Adrian Mutu remains unavailable for selection.
The Romanian forward has had an erratic season and his behaviour often raises eyebrows. Despite being out with injury, Mutu was out partying late and got involved in an altercation which led him to punch another man at the Four Seasons Hotel in Florence. The former Juventus player is apparently struggling for form this season following the legal debacle with Chelsea in addition to a series of niggling injuries which have forced him to miss considerable playing time. The rise of Jovetic will likely hamper his chances of starting once he fully recovers since striker Alberto Gilardino seems untouchable given his knack for knocking in the goals. The Romanian could be sacrificed sooner rather than later since he is beginning to become more of distraction as opposed a benefit to the team.
Mutu’s agent Giovanni Becali has refused to rule out a potential move away from Florence as reports of Fiorentina’s interest in Brescia striker Andrea Caracciolo have surfaced. The former Sampdoria striker has found the back of the net on a regular basis in Serie B this season and he will definitely be interested in a return to the top flight. Caracciolo’s characteristics are certainly different to those of Mutu yet with a recovered Jovetic and the threat posed by wingers Marchionni and Juan Manuel Vargas, the Romanian’s presence is becoming futile. The latest reports claim the Gigliati’s management will levy a fine against Mutu for his part in the late night fight which could indicate la Viola are preparing for life without one of its stars.
The Tuscan club’s leadership is seeking to fortify the team in light of the qualification into the Last 16 in Europe which ensures the players will be involved on more than one front until elimination. Roma’s Rodrigo Taddei has been linked with a move to Florence despite his successful stint with the Giallorossi. The Brazilian player who can be used in more than one position in midfield will be a welcome addition to the Coach and will likely come for cheap despite his hefty wage demands. The Giallorossi have not offered him a contract extension so he may even arrive for free during the summer unless a small compensation is given to his club to expedite his signature and bring it forward to the January transfer window.
On the European front, the Champions League draw will determine the side which will come up against the Gigliati. The tifosi will be hoping for a manageable draw as they would be delighted to see their club advance further into the quarter finals and even semi-finals. Coach Prandelli will be hoping for a kind draw to serve as a motivational tool prior to taking on the Rossoneri in a crucial jostle for top positions in Serie A.
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
Historic win as Tifosi give warm reception – December 11, 2009
Precious points dropped as fatigue and injuries mount – December 15, 2009
Viola prepare for Milan’s arrival and Mutu’s departure – December 18, 2009