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Is Everton the Bizarro Fiorentina?

paul.jpgSince I am finally calming down after the Juventus win, I am able to rationally turn my mind to the first leg of the exciting UEFA Cup tie taking place this Thursday between Fiorentina and Everton. I am looking forward to the match; I don’t really know much about Everton (I only watch the Prem occasionally) but they strike me as a good, attacking, fun team. It should be an enjoyable game.

But as I looked over this strange club, and considered it in light of my own team, I noticed a number of startling similarities. To wit:

• Both teams currently sit in 4th place in two of the greatest, most competitive leagues in Europe. Fourth place in each league qualifies the team for the Champion’s League.

• Both teams are in 4th at the expense of a far richer, more famous rival. (Liverpool and AC Milan).

• Fiorentina leads the 5th place team by four points, while Everton’s lead is three points.

• Both teams have had their share of struggles against the traditional “big four” in their respective leagues: Fiorentina has only losses and draws vs. the big guys (excepting the Juventus win on Sunday) while Everton has only one point from all the games vs. their big four.

• Both teams are coming off great wins on Sunday: Fiorentina beat Juventus in Turin for the first time in twenty years, while Everton thumped Pompey.

• Both clubs are led by youngish, intelligent coaches who buy into the youth system. (Although here I would say that Prandelli is a genius, while Moyes is simply a good coach.)

• Both clubs sold off budding young superstars who became footballing icons to their respective nations (Roberto Baggio and Wayne Rooney).

• Finally, Florence was the cradle of the Renaissance, and the thus the birthplace of all that is decent and beautiful about western society. Liverpool, meanwhile, was the cradle of the Beatles, the birthplace of everything that is decent and beautiful in pop music. Paul McCartney, need I say, is an Everton fan…

Anyway, these are just a few of the coincidences that struck me. Please feel free to leave your own in the comments section. I will be back tomorrow with a proper preview of the big match.