It seems like its been a long time since I’ve thrown up a match preview, and indeed it has; I have not written one since the final match of last season vs. Torino, which was eventually won by Pablo Osvaldo’s wonderful bicycle kick. But tomorrow our team begins again with a hugely important match vs. the Czech club Slavia Prague. It is the first leg of their Champions League qualifying match; the eventual winner will advance to the group stages of the CL, with all the prestige, excitement, and money that the later stages will generate; the loser will be left to ponder what-ifs and rue the waste of their fine work the previous season. For Fiorentina tomorrow will be a strange match; it is essentially the first real game of the season, and the club and its fans will still be getting to know its newer players, and yet it is perhaps the most important match of the year; there is no question that it will set the tone for the season to come.
For me, this is a tricky match to preview. For one, I have not seen any pre-season matches this season save for about half the Barca game. I also have not seen all of the new players yet, and really am not sure who the great man will run out in their starting lineup. There have been some whisper that the Viola have had a poor pre-season, but I see no shame in losing to Barca, and find that the general vibe coming out of Florence is one of excitement and optimism. I think Fiorentina will do very well tomorrow, especially since they are playing at home. (In spite of Prandelli’s concerns about the state of the pitch.) I am predicting big things for our boys.
Starting Line-Ups (AKA The Blind Guess Department, Particularly so Today)
Fiorentina: Frey , Zauri, Gamberini, Krøldrup, Vargas; Kuzmanovic, Felipe Melo, Donadel, Santana; Gilardino, Mutu.
Slavia: Vaniak, Suchý, Latka, Brabec, Jablonský,Gebre Selassie, Tavares, Jarolím, Černý, Toleski, Švento
(With the starting line-ups, I consulted a number of online sources and took my best guess. I stuck with a pretty conservative lineup, although Vargas, Zauri, Melo and Gila are all new acquisitions. I assume Pazzini will start on the bench, in spite of his solid preseason.)
Who’s NOT Playing?
There are some injury concerns over Dario Dainelli, while Monto continues to toil away in China and will not play.
Prediction (for what’s worth)
Unsurprisingly, I believe Fiorentina’s wise investments and shrewd buys will pay off this season. Everything I’ve read online suggests Slavia is a team that demands respect, but Fiorentina is still the better team and is playing on their home pitch. I see our boys coming up big to take the pressure off during the second leg. Fiorentina wins 3-0.
The match will not be shown here in the U.S. on television. Fire up your computers, everyone! (and if you have a good streaming site, feel free to post it in the comments section.)
I will be back tomorrow night or Wednesday with a match recap. Take care everyone and Forza Viola!