It certainly has been a busy twenty-four hours for Fiorentina. Yesterday the Viola drew Slavia Prague in the second leg of their qualifying tie for the Champions League; with the draw, Fiorentina has advanced to the group stages of the competition, and today the draw for each group were made.
First, I did not post anything on yesterday’s game because, again, I did not see it. I was at work and in meetings all day and could not stream the match, and since it was not on US TV I could not record it. By all accounts Fiorentina played sensibly, protecting their lead while also making a few dangerous incursions into Slavia territory.
With this HUGE win over the two legs (and the importance of the victory really cannot be overstated) Fiorentina will now play in the group stages of the Champions League. It was very possible that Fiorentina would have been placed in a killer group, almost guaranteeing an early exit, but the draw was kind today: this is what we got.
I like this group. All of the media noise over the next few weeks concerning this group is going to be about Luca Toni going back to face his old team, and that will indeed be fun for his fans (of which I am one) but the real story is that Fiorentina can most definitely advance out of this group.
Bayern Munich will most certainly be favorites, although they had some obvious weaknesses exposed in the semi-finals of the UEFA Cup last year, and I do think they will do well. The popular press will probably peg French Champs Lyon to finish second, the Viola third, with Steaua bringing up the rear. More informed viewers have already posited that the second sport will be a dogfight between Lyon and the Viola. Unsurprisingly, to anyone who reads this blog, I think Fiorentina can get that second spot, if not the first.
As readers of this blog also know, however, I don’t follow a ton of football outside of Series A. I actually watch a bit of Bayern because of Toni (Ribery is also fun) and I’ve seen a lot of Lyon’s games in the Champion’s League over the past few years. I freely admit I know next to nothing about Steaua. I will be studying up in the next few weeks, however, to give you the best previews of each match as it comes.
From what little I do know, however, I will now predict this: I think we can win both Steaua matches, can split the games with Bayern, and I do think we can beat Lyon. That would give us enough points to finish second (if not first) and would allow Fiorentina to advance to the knockout stages of the competition.
We will have much more on this red-letter day in Fiorentina’s history as we go forward. What is strange is that I have been waiting all summer for significant news to report about the Viola. Now that I have it, we have to move on almost immediately, as we have our first and massive league game vs. Juventus this weekend. I hope to have a preview of that up on Friday evening or perhaps on Saturday.
Lost in this very happy, and busy, weekend, is yet some more good news. Alessandro Gamberini, surely one of the best center-backs in Series A last season, signed an extension with Fiorentina today. With defense surely being the Viola’s weakest link, this signing was a no-brainer, and fans of the Viola will surely welcome Gamberini for two additional years.
I will be back soon with the Juve preview. I hope you are all enjoying what is surely a very special moment in the Viola’s history.