A lot has changed over time in football, even in recent years – long gone are the days where an outcome was obvious. The recent results in the Champions League are proof of this. Fiorentina have qualified for the knockout stages, and are currently top of group E, while Inter have made it hard for themselves and must win against Russian side Rubin Kazan to guarantee progress. And not to leave out the surprise exit of Liverpool, a club which has won the European Cup five times. This competition is full of surprises.
Fiorentina are a team who have had mixed fortunes of late, they followed up losing to Parma in the domestic league by beating Lyon in the Champions League. Meaning the team from Florence have qualified for the next stage with a game to spare – a feat not accomplished by another Italian team this season. This brings up a curious talking point – the only team from Serie A that has a guaranteed spot in the last 16 is Fiorentina. The top three in the domestic league are all struggling, whereas the team that sits in fifth place are flying high. Is this because they are currently not amongst the elite in Serie A so put more effort into their European matches? Do you have to sacrifice your domestic form in order to make it in Europe?
Consider Inter, for instance – they have been comfortable in the domestic league, winning games for fun, but in the Champions League, they are far from as potent. The team that has dominated Serie A for so long were nowhere to be found against their main threat in Group F – Barcelona. If Fiorentina can qualify from a group contested by the likes of Lyon and Liverpool while Inter do not progress from a group containing Rubin Kazan and Dynamo Kyev, Jose Mourinho will come under heavy scrutiny from the Italian Press. He was brought in to help Inter mount a serious challenge in Europe and he is yet to deliver. The Nerazzurri have had 44 years of hurt when it comes to success in Europe so they will not be satisfied with just another league title. The passionate tifosi of Inter will be looking to Samuel Eto’o to finally end this period of heartache. They will be under a huge amount of pressure to win in their final group game, the time when everything will be decided.
It will be easier to compare Inter and Fiorentina when the two meet in Serie A this weekend. Will Fiorentina be able to carry their confidence from beating Lyon in the Champions League over into Serie A? Or will their inconsistent league form continue? It could depend on the strength of the side they field. Some players may be rested after their midweek game, which would go some way to answering whether they are compromising their league results for success in Europe. Conversely, Inter must recover from being outclassed against the Spanish Champions in the Champions League and revert to the assured performances they give in Serie A.
Inter – The Nerazzurri are currently sitting pretty at the top of Serie A with 32 points having lost only one game, and that was back in week six. After the fiasco of the Champions League where they were quite simply outclassed by Barca, they will want to prove to the footballing world that Tuesdays match was just an isolated incident so will want to get back to winning ways.
4 J.Zanetti – 25 Samuel – 6 Lucio- 26 Chivo
8 Motta – 19 Cambiasso – 11 Muntari
9 Eto’o – 22 Milito
Fiorentina – While la Viola are not in a Champions League qualifying position in Serie A, they are the only Italian side that are currently guaranteed further Champions League football once this season’s group stage has concluded. Following their victory over Lyon, Cesare Prandelli has been offered a contract extension and they have received an extra £25m to invest in the team over the transfer window in January. With this money they will attempt to sign long term target Ezequile Munoz, the Boca Juniors centre-back. They are also looking into acquiring Cristian Ledesma from Lazio, who wants to leave the Aquile because of a contractual dispute.
23 Comotto- 3 Dainelli-2 Kroldrup- 19 Gobbi
18 Montilivo- 15 Zanetti
32 Marchionni- 24 Santana- 6 Vargas
Inter will be counting on the front two of Samuel Eto’o and Diego Milito to do what they could not on Tuesday – score. While la Viola be without the striking force of Adrian Mutu yet again but they go into this fixture knowing they have nothing to fear.