Before we get to today’s preview of tomorrow’s Italian Cup return leg match between the Viola and Lazio, I wanted to report that Cesare Prandelli confirmed in his afternoon press conference that the club had signed Portuguese U-21 defender Manuel Da Costa from PSV (beating out both Juve and Parma for the kid). Prandelli noted that Da Costa is flexible enough to play both central defender positions and is the right age (he’s only 21) to fit well into the “Fiorentina Project.” (I love it when coaches refer to their teams as a project.)
I confess I don’t know much more about Da Costa than can be gathered from the general stories going around the internet, which is probably a result of the fact that I pretty much only pay attention to Series A. However, what I’ve read suggests he’s a classy defender who will certainly help Fiorentina’s beat-up back line. At that age, at the very least, he’s certainly worth the risk. Financial details are still sketchy, but it seems the club paid a fee of €4.5 million, and happily the player is not cup-tied in the UEFA cup as PSV has been playing in the Champions League this year.
One other bit of transfer news: Fiorentina announced on its website that it has ended its attempts to get Luca Di Matteo from Pescara as the teams could not agree to a fee. Whether this is a negotiating tactic or truly the end of the road remains to be seen. Now, onto the preview:
Fiorentina v. Lazio (Second Leg) – Italian Cup
Fiorentina and Lazio meet tomorrow at the Artemio Franchi for the second leg of their Italian Cup quarterfinal match. Lazio won the first leg 2-1 with both goals coming in the space of a minute. Giampaolo Pazzini got one back off a nice cross from Adrian Mutu. Martha had a fine summary of the match which can be found here. With the away goal rule, Fiorentina needs only to win 1-0 to advance. After the second half of the first leg, which witnessed unrelenting attacking by the Viola, one can hope and expect an exciting, attacking match.
Although both my Italian and my Google Translator are a little rusty, at his press briefing Prandelli told the throng that Fabio Liverani will be out with injury and that Bobo Vieri will likely start in place of Pazzini. The boss also noted that he was wary of Lazio’s Rolando Bianchi, (who is expected to make his first start for Lazio since coming over from another powder-blue team, Man City) as he has the ability to change the game in a moment. Lazio’s Cristian Ledesma will miss the game with a suspension picked up with a yellow card in the previous game. Otherwise, both clubs should start competitive squads, as they are both taking the Cup very seriously.
My heart says 2-0 Fiorentina. My head says….screw it. I never listen to my head, anyway. I predict a 2-0 Fiorentina win, which will see them advance on to the semis.
I will be back tomorrow to recap the game and eat some crow if necessary.