The 23 man Fiorentina squad touched down in Buenos Aires, Argentina today, readying themselves for an exciting set of friendlies in South America against clubs rich in tradition and talent. Our boys will play Argentinian club Estudiantes, Brazilian club Palmeiras, and then Peruvian club Universitario over the course of a week in the second edition of the Copa EuroAmericana.
This somewhat unique "cup" is a two week series of exhibition matches between European teams and clubs from the Western hemisphere, featuring 13 clubs playing in 9 venues spread between the Americas. Teams that win earn their continent a point, and the hemisphere with the most points "wins." Europe currently holds a 2-0 advantage over America, with Monaco having already won their two matches. Fiorentina is the only team in the competition to play 3 matches, with all of the Americas-based clubs playing only one apiece. Other than Fiorentina's friendlies, which all look to be great fun, the standout fixture has to be Club America vs. Atletico Madrid in Mexico City, where a great atmosphere is almost guaranteed.
Other than the obvious tactical and conditioning benefits that these semi-competitive outings provide, the experience will definitely be educational and perhaps inspirational for the younger players that Vincenzo Montella has brought with the squad. Joshua Brillante, a defensive midfielder only just arrived to European football, may suddenly share the field with Juan Sebastian Veron in Argentina, while Federico Bernardeschi might play against the same team that nurtured such attacking talents as Rivaldo and Edmundo (but it's better if I don't think about Edmundo too long, makes me think of what might have been). Fiorentina youth product (and fan) Cristiano Piccini might also treasure playing against Palmeiras, the team that was Cafu's platform to European greatness.
These won't be the only high-profile friendlies that Fiorentina take on this season, since la Viola also have a full slate of matches in August, playing both Malaga and Real Betis before taking on Real Madrid in Warsaw on the 16th. It's going to be a lot of fun watching the team experiment and grow over the next month in preparation for the new season, all the while rooting on our young talents. Forza viola folks, lets enjoy the casual football this summer before things start to get real!
Fiorentina Copa EuroAmericana Squad
GOALKEEPERS: Neto, Tătărusanu, Lezzerini
DEFENDERS: M. Alonso, Cassani, Hegazi, Pasqual, Piccini, Gonzalo, Roncaglia, Savić, Tomović
MIDFIELDERS: Bakić, B. Valero, Brillante, Matias Fernandez, Lazzari, Pizarro, Vargas, Vecino, Wolski
STRIKERS: Babacar, Bernardeschi, Rossi, Gomez, Iličić, Joaquín
July 26th @ 2 p.m EST: Estudiantes de la Plata vs. FIORENTINA (La Plata, Argentina)
July 30th @ 8 p.m. EST: Palmeiras vs. FIORENTINA (Sao Paolo, Brazil)
August 2nd @ 5 p.m. EST: Universitario vs. FIORENTINA (Lima, Peru)