On Wednesday at Goodison Park in Liverpool, Fiorentina will take on Everton in the second leg of their UEFA Cup matchup. Fiorentina won the first leg 2-0 in Florence and have placed themselves in a good position to advance. Everton, however, is still a dangerous team, and they will be playing all-out in front of a frenetic crowd, eager to prove that Premiership football is the “best in the world.” It should be a hell of a match.
I am not going to go into a tactical analysis as I did for the first leg. My preview of the first game still contains most of the necessary information to preview the match. Since the first leg Everton won again in the Premier League (they seem to be able to beat anyone lately, bar the Viola) while Fiorentina lost 1-0 on the road to an inferior Siena team. Questions remain about whether Fiorentina were a touch overconfident heading into the Siena match. One also must consider how their confidence will affect the game on Wednesday; in the first leg the Viola’s confidence was sky-high, as they just came off a win vs. Juventus.
The key to this game will be, I think, whether Fiorentina can get an away goal. If they can get one (and especially if they get it early) they should advance to the next round without many problems. The first 15-20 minutes of the match could really set the tone for how the game is played.
That being said, however, if Fiorentina plays as well as they did in the first leg, they will advance whether they get an away goal or not. Their defense was stout, and their movement of the ball was impeccable. All of their players fought hard and played like men who decided they had no option but to win the game. They dominated the match from beginning to end, and if they do that again, they should be fine.
Recent Form (All Competitions)
Starting Line-Ups (AKA The Blind Guess Department)
Fiorentina: Frey; Ujfalusi, Dainelli, Kroldrup, Pasqual; Kuzmanovic, Donadel, Montolivo; Santana, Pazzini, Jorgensen
Everton: Howard; P. Neville, Yobo, Lescott, Hibbert; Pienaar, Carsley, Arteta, Jagielka, Cahill; Yakubu
Who’s NOT Playing?
Vaughan, Valente, Osman, and Fernandes are all out for the bad guys. Mutu (as expected), Semioli and Liverani are still out for Fiorentina. Also, the team officially announced that Papa Waigo will be out for at least a week with a muscle injury. That story can be found here and includes a little unrelated transfer speculation that I will address later in the week.
Everton is a good club playing at home in front of a rabid fan base. But if Fiorentina proved anything last week, it is that they are fundamentally the better team. They can and should advance out of this matchup to the next round. I think it is certainly possible, in fact, that they win the match. Everton will be attacking on all cylinders, which will leave a great deal of space for Fiorentina to weave their deadly short-passing attack game. I am hoping for, and expecting, the best.
2-2 draw, and a barnburner of a match. End-to-end stuff. The Viola advance to the next round.
The match will be shown at 3:30 here in the States (EST) on Fox Soccer Channel. Believe it or not, this is the first of Fiorentina’s UEFA cup matches to be televised here in the USA. Thank goodness they are playing an English team.