I apologize for not posting a game recap earlier, but things were a little hectic for me. There are two major things I'd like to touch on this evening:
Emotions and Sportsmanship in Firenze
As everyone expected, the supporters at the Artemio Franchi were pure class as they expressed their sympathy for Prandelli's loss via a moment of silence, banners in the Curva Fiesole and by singing and scarf-waving throughout the match. Martha did an excellent job of describing the scene in Firenze.
Then, in an initially controversial move, the Viola waited at the tunnel to shake hands of the Inter players after the game ended. Obviously this was an unusual but sportsmanlike gesture. And one that we may get used to seeing regularly in Serie A after Christmas.
After the deaths of Raciti and Sandri, Italian football badly needs a group of players and supporters to be at the forefront of necessary changes. I remember Donadoni applauding the behavior of the Scottish fans after the last Euro qualifier in Glasgow, and pointing out that this is what Italian football should aspire to. The atmosphere at the Artemio Franchi yesterday showed that Italian football does indeed have much to be proud of, and hopefully this is a starting point on the road to recovering from the recent violence-related problems.
This game showed that Fiorentina has plenty of improving to do in order to achieve the goal of Champions League qualification. Inter played very well and their superiority became increasingly apparent as the game wore on. Both Inter goals came from direct, fluid build-up play and tremendous through balls from Zlatan Ibrahimovic. And both Jimenez and Cruz were clinical in their finishing, both men giving Frey no chance with shots placed neatly inside the far post. The Cruz goal was a dagger, and it was a massive blow to go two goals down on the stroke of half time.
I applaud Prandelli for making changes at half time and going all out to try and get back into the game. The move did not work out, but there were two chances to score for Fiorentina in the second half. The first came when Liverani did what he does best - dropping a sublime chip about 40 yards onto Bobo's right foot. However, that was the problem. Bobo has proved this year that he is still capable of a goal, but he's only going to score with his left foot. Ok, maybe he could score on a wide open header that doesn't require more than a 6 inch vertical. In the end, Vieri made a hash of it and didn't trouble Julio Cesar. The other chance came in added time when Semioli was spectacularly denied with a reflex save by Cesar.
Enough with the summary, as there were a couple of positives for Fiorentina. The first was that Frey played another tremendous game, 3 times denying Zlatan Ibrahimovic from close range. After one double save, Zlatan shook Frey's hand. The other is that Mutu and Santana were back on the field. Both men looked very rusty and did not play up to the standard fans are used to. But the fact is that these two are back and that is good news for Fiorentina. The squad is much more dangerous with both of these men at Prandelli's disposal.
Most importantly, after the conclusion of the weekend, Fiorentina are now 1 point behind 4th place Udinese and 2 points behind 3rd placed Juventus. Despite the recent dip in form (1 point from the last 3 matches), Fiorentina are very close to where they want to be. Three matches remain before Christmas, and it will be crucial to pick up points to get back on track.