Fiorentina’s season hangs by a thread as they get ready to welcome Bayern Munich at the Stadio Artemio Franchi tonight in the second leg of their Champions League clash.
La Viola will have to produce a stellar display if they are to get past the Bavarian giants in a bid to salvage the rest of their campaign. Cesare Prandelli’s side have had a terribly disappointing Serie A season and the Champions League will now be the stick by which their efforts will be measured. The Florence side should be doubly motivated for tonight’s fixture, as they will be nursing the wounds from the controversial loss the last time these sides met. Miroslav Klose’s last minute offside winner cast the spot light on referee’s once again, and Prandelli will hope his side have better luck tonight.
Since that loss Fiorentina has been terribly unlucky and managed to just get one win from its four games. The loss to Milan was again seeped in debate as the team was denied a penalty in the final minutes of the game. Their misery was compounded further when Alexandre Pato snuck in to award all three points to the Rossoneri, on a night when they couldn’t have complained had they come out with none. The Viola was able to turn the tables against Lazio as a 92nd minute Keirrison strike salvaged a point for the team. However, Prandelli would have been disappointed with his team as they enjoyed the better chances. This weekend against Juventus, it was a similar story as the team fell behind to an early goal clawed its way back into the game only to surrender the lead again. Fiorentina was the superior side for long periods and only momentary lapses in concentration allowed the Bianconeri to come away with the win.
There has been a lot of speculation lately about Cesare Prandelli’s future in Florence. Many voices have linked the coach to the national side after this summer’s World Cup while others talk about a move to Turin. The Italian has cemented his place as one of the best coaches of the peninsula in recent years and his two Panchina d’Oro awards are testament to his hard work. This year despite a less than satisfying Serie A campaign, la Viola’s performances in Europe have left everyone amazed. A double over Liverpool is an achievement that any coach can be truly proud of. If the team does manage to secure a last 16 berth tonight, Prandelli will only attract more attention from the top benches around the country. In his five years with the Florence side, he has over achieved by all standards and propelled the team to a position that would have been thought impossible when they were sent to Serie C2 eight years ago.
It looks likely that this summer will be the last we see of the Prandelli-Fiorentina union and as such the coach will be looking to leave on a high. The Champions League clash thus becomes even more important as qualification for next year’s competition lies 11 points away. A one goal deficit with the added bonus of an away goal is not too daunting to overhaul and the Viola will be keen to continue their impressive run. As Alberto Gilardino said in the pre-game press conference, “The future is now because it’s an important challenge: for us, for Florence, for me and my teammates, for the staff and the club”.