I had hoped, as all sports fans do, for the best. But I also feared the worst. Last week Milan looked phenomenal, while the Viola looked tired and rusty. Fiorentina absolutely needed to win this week to have any shot of staying in the Champions League race; anything short of maximum points from Milan would only be a bonus. But instead fans of Fiorentina, be them man or woman, received a delightful Mother’s Day gift. Perhaps it is because Milan themselves have so often been described as a bunch of mother...
But tonight is no time for negativity. Fiorentina is back in the driver’s seat for the fourth and final CL spot in Italy. Their resounding win today over Parma (they won 3-1 after going down 1-0) combined with Milan’s thumping loss by the same score to a spirited Napoli squad means that with one game remaining Fiorentina is back in fourth place with a two-point cushion. A win next week guarantees that the Viola will play Champions League football next season.
Before we get to the possible outcomes of next week, please allow me one caveat; I did not see either the Fiorentina or Milan matches. I was attending a brunch with my Mom and was only able to see the scores of both games (later I saw the goals) but not the action. I did see some of the entertaining Inter-Siena match (good game, by the way) but I can’t really report anything more than what anyone could read in a standard report. (For a half-way decent one, go here.) I will say this, however: in my preview of the match I stated that someone out of the group of Santana, Semioli, and the center-forwards would have to step up for the Viola to win with Mutu’s absence. What I didn’t expect is that they ALL would step up.
Anyway, what does this all mean? First and foremost is the fact that Fiorentina is back in the driver’s seat, and that they control their own destiny. Next weekend is the last Fiorentina match of the season, vs. a frisky Torino squad. If the Viola win, then they play Champions League football next season. Also, if Milan draws or loses their match vs. Udinese, Fiorentina also go through. If Fiorentina draw and Milan wins, then both teams are level on points and Milan go through on tiebreakers. If Milan wins and Fiorentina lose, then Milan goes through on points. (God forbid.)
Its pretty simple: Fiorentina now must simply win ONE MORE GAME. One more win and this most special of seasons is capped with the victory it deserves, Champions league football. CL football, as I have argued before, can work wonders, will likely keep much of this very likeable team together, and will give us all something extra to enjoy next season.
Finally, I would be remiss if I did not give shout out to our friends and comrades from Naples, a city my guidebook described (during my first trip to Italy) as a “city turned up to eleven.” (Cue the knowing nod from Spinal Tap fans.) Please, fellas, turn the noise up to eleven and have a drink on us. We’ll have your back in Series A next season. You had a monster of a win today.
And Florence. Beautiful Florence. I wish I was back in the city tonight, where there were surely celebrations long into the night. All Fiorentina fans everywhere should be celebrating, happy for their team, but not forgetting that we have just one more match before we truly celebrate our victory.
* This is a rough re-ordering of a few lines from part one of T.S. Eliot’s The Wasteland. It translates (again roughly) as: Napoli! My Friend! You who helped us kick AC Milan’s ass!