Tomorrow in Turin, Fiorentina’s season will be decided. It’s the final match of the campaign, and Fiorentina is in fourth place, two points up on nearest rivals AC Milan. A win would guarantee Fiorentina fourth place and a spot in the Champions League; so would a draw or loss by Milan, who face a tricky test vs. Udinese. Regardless of how it happens, it all comes down to this: this final match is what will validate our wonderful season. A win will make everything worthwhile, while a loss mean disappointment for all Viola fans, in spite of the wonderful ride they had brought us on.
That is unfortunate; it has been a wonderful season, with many highs, including the inspired UEFA Cup run and the constant battle for fourth place in the league. But when the club was knocked out of the cup, it became clear that qualifying for the Champions League was the only way left to validate the wonderful play we had all seen on the field. After seeing them play, we know they deserve fourth place, the right to play on the biggest stage in Europe, and the chance to be genuinely counted among the big boys in Italy. But to do that, they MUST close the deal tomorrow; they must win just one more game. If they can manage that, than Viola fans everywhere can have a fine summer, dreaming of playing big European teams in the fall. However, if they lose tomorrow (and Milan wins) Then even those beautiful memories of the play we have seen this season will come with a tiny asterisk in our minds; the caveat that the team, even playing as well as it could, could win nothing of consequence.
However, I think they will win.
So what about the match itself, the match everyone wearing purple is thinking about right now? They are playing Torino, of course, a club that has had an enigmatic season, scoring goals in bunches one game only to be shut out the next. Regardless, Torino is now completely safe from relegation, and yet does not have the opportunity to play in Europe. Thus many commentators have noted that they have “nothing to play for” and that the game could potentially be an easy ride for the Viola. Milan plays Udinese, meanwhile, a club that needs the points to solidify a UEFA Cup place for next season. Thus some have wryly stated that Fiorentina will be the big winner on Sunday, while Milan will go home disappointed. However, Torino has vowed to play hard on Sunday, and I have no reason to not take them at their word. I do believe it will take maximum effort to win on Sunday, but a task made no easier by the fact that Donadel and Mutu are out on suspension.
Torino: L- L- L- W- W)
Starting Line-Ups (AKA The Blind Guess Department)
Torino: Sereni; Dellafiore, Di Loreto, Lanna, Pisano; Diana, Corini, Zanetti; Rosina, Di Michele; Stellone
Fiorentina: Frey; Jorgensen, Ujfalusi, Gamberini, Gobbi; Kuzmanovic, Liverani, Montolivo; Santana, Pazzini, Osvaldo
I do believe we will see, for the first time in a while, a well-rested, roaring-out-of-the-gate Fiorentina. The boys know that it only takes one more win to validate this most wonderful of seasons, and I do believe they will seize the moment. I predict a 2-0 win by the Viola, and much celebrating in the streets of beautiful Florence. I only wish I could be there.
Because of the critical Roma and Inter matches, as well as the potentially dramatic Milan game, it looks right now like the Viola game will not be shown on TV here in the States. Dammit. Fire up the computers, everybody.
One Final Note
Since I started this blog in the new year, I have never gone four days without posting, as I did this week, so please accept my apologies. As I have said a few times, my wife is THISCLOSE to giving birth to our first child, so it has been a bit of a busy week for me. Anyway, sometime in the next two hours to two weeks, she will have our baby. When that happens, I will probably go offline for a week or two, so please just bear with me. I will be back soon. And if the baby does not come by Sunday, I will be back in the evening with the match recap.
Forza Viola. Forza Viola. Forza Viola.