Tomorrow in Florence Fiorentina will take on the Eredivisie’s leading club, PSV, in the first leg of their UEFA Cup quarter-final tie. Fiorentina is, of course, the current 4th place team in Series A and is also fighting for qualification in next year’s Champions League. PSV is a perennial power in the land of wooden shoes and has qualified for the CL the last few years. They finished third in their Champions League group stage this year, and that is why they now find themselves in the EUFA Cup. Both teams, to use that tiresome phrase, are “in it to win it,” so it should be a hell of a match.
To be honest, I just don’t know much about PSV. I, uh, rarely watch Dutch football. And by “rarely,” I mean never. I do know that PSV has continued to be a dominant force in the Eredivisie, a pesky club in Europe who always makes a few waves (they just knocked Spurs out of the UEFA cup), and rightfully have the reputation of being a factory that produces solid young players. Much of the internet chatter right now is about Heurelho Gomes, their keeper. Fortunately, the Viola have a pretty good guy between the sticks as well.
Fiorentina has been going through a bit of a rough patch recently where they seem unable to buy a win (or even a draw) on the road. Their last big win on the road was at Juventus (admittedly a VERY big win) and they dispatched Everton in the last round of the Cup thanks to penalties, but they need to play much more consistently overall if they are to advance in the cup and get that fourth place spot in Series A. The return of Adi Mutu may very well give the club the consistency they are looking for. Mutu is expected to play on Thursday.
Starting Line-Ups (AKA The Blind Guess Department)
Fiorentina: Frey; Ujfalusi, Gamberini, Kroldrup, Gobbi; Donadel, Liverani, Montolivo; Santana, Pazzini, Mutu
PSV: Gomes; Salcido, Marcellis, Kromkamp, Zonneveld; Simons, Culina; Afellay, Farfan, Mendez; Koevermans
To be frank, Fiorentina MUST win this first leg at home. Their road form has been woeful while they have been great at the Artemio Franchi. Fiorentina are also at near full-strength (only Semioli seems to be definitely out) and thus this is their best chance to put some goals on the board and give themselves a little protection heading into the second leg. The club must be a little tired, but key man Mutu should be fresh after missing Sunday’s match with a suspension. Everyone is expecting an open, attacking match, just as we almost always see from Fiorentina. (That’s why we love the club.) I’m just hoping the Viola can get a lead they can take with them on the road, while protecting against the deadly away-goal. With Fiorentina virtually the only Italian club left in Europe after Roma’s “all but in name” elimination from the Champions League at the hands of Manchester United, I hope fans of Calcio everywhere can get behind the Viola.
The match will be shown in the US on FSC at 5pm EST, which is tape delay.
2-0 Fiorentina, for whatever its worth.
One quick side note: The Great Man has won another well-deserved honor, the ‘Fair Play Award.’ The committee giving the award cited his “extraordinary human and professional qualities and the intelligence and moral principles that he is able to transmit to his squad.”
I can’t say much more than that; the full story can be found here.
I’ll be back on Friday with the recap!