Cesare Prandelli sent out his most aggressive possible formation today, mixing together the healthiest and most on-form members of the squad with the clear intention of going for the kill right from the start against Cagliari. He sent out Old Man Vieri as a central forward, a start he's earned over the recently ineffective and always whiny and frustrated Giampaolo Pazzini. Mutu and Santana flanked Bobo. In the midfield, Donadel was removed and the offensive minded three across were Liverani, Montolivo and Kuzmanovic. Partly out of necessity and partly to exploit the space in Cagliari's defense, Jorgensen started at right back. The results speak for themselves. Thanks to our Tuscan homeboyz, Empoli, the Viola are now only one point behind Udinese for the coveted 4th place spot.
Montolivo started things off with a well struck shot from the edge of the 18 yard box, after Mutu set him up with an excellent drop pass. However, and much to the chagrin of the manager, the Viola quickly allowed Cagliari to equalize as a result of some slack marking in the 18 yard box. From that point forward, Cagliari was full of attacking life and fighting Fiorentina hard, keeping things even and interesting. Foggia was excellent on the left flank, and to his credit, Lupatelli made a couple of saves and was generally solid throughout. In the last 5 minutes of the half, Jorgensen placed a perfectly weighted ball onto the head of Mutu, who put away the chance to put the Viola back on top. Just after that, Cagliari's Canini decided to chop Vieri's legs out from under him in the penalty box despite the fact that Old Man Bobo was barreling away from the goal and towards the sideline. Stupid foul. Mutu made no mistake on the penalty kick, putting the Viola up 3-1 on the stroke of half time and effectively ending the game as well.
Like I said, the second 45 was essentially a formality. However, Fiorentina did not send the fans at the Franchi home dissapointed. After a sweet 1-2 between Mutu and Montolivo, Santana got on the end of Mutu's low cross and unleashed a low left footed shot that found the back of the net. But the real gem was the 5th and final goal for Fiorentina. Watch the video linked to above, it comes towards the end. He absolutely worked 2 different Cagliari defenders and unleashed an unstoppable shot. Quite a way to celebrate your birthday ...
Santana's health is a key for this team going forward. With Santana and Mutu playing on the wings, Fiorentina will create many chances each game. It will then be up to the two of them, mainly Mutu, to finish a share of those chances and the central forward tandem of Pazzini and Vieri to take their chances as well. And while he did make a couple of poor passes, I credit Montolivo with being more aggressive today. He pushed further up the field and got into shooting range regularly. His goal was spectacular and he had a couple of excellent passes as well.
Enjoy the holiday everyone. I will be busy this week but I plan on stopping by regularly during the interval. I will take a look at some of the bigger thematic things Fiorentina fans will be looking for in the second half, recap the first half of the campaign, stay up on any transfer market news, and examine where the team stands in regards to the Della Valle/Corvino/Prandelli plans.