The Fiorentina Women’s season kicks off today at 1:00PM EST as they enter into the round of 32 in the Champions League. Last year’s run was ended abruptly by the women of Chelsea and this year they once again face an equally tough battle against Arsenal.
After a 1-0 loss in England, Chelsea handed Fiorentina their biggest loss of the season, a lopsided 6-0 performance that saw Chelsea through to the next round with an aggregate 7-0 win. Flash forward a year, though, and the Tuscan expectations are higher, even if the outcome could be similar.
Fiorentina carry a lot of excitement into the Artemio Franchi, which will undoubtedly provide for them a raucous home field advantage. Following a very successful off season, the ceiling for this squad is still unknown, though we can think of no better time to test your mettle than your first game which happens to come against last season’s Women’s Super League champions.
Thursday will also feature an interesting game inside the game as Lisa Di Vanna will square off against her former Melbourne City manager (current Arsenal manager) Joe Montemurro. The two had a falling out when Joe coached, and Lisa captained the Matildas squad a few years ago. As always, we stand in full solidarity with our Viola ladies. Forza Lisa!
U.N.I.T.Y is more than just one of the most iconic songs ever, performed by one of the greatest to ever live, it is also the strength of this Fiorentina team. There is something special about this group. Is it ready to show itself in the first game? I don’t know, but it is there. Take a look at our Fiorentina Women’s preview here.
Fiorentina will again look to its three leaders, Alia Guagni, Ilaria Mauro and Alice Parisi to carry them in this game, though support can come in the form of newcomers Janelle Cordia and Lisa De Vanna.
ViolaNation caught up with Antonio Cincotta pregame to talk through the upcoming match with Arsenal. “I asked our players to do the best. When you do your best, you can have no regrets. Do your best in every moment of every single practice. We are Fiorentina and we will never give up. Even if we only have one shot to win, we will perform that as best as we can. We will perform honorably and with fairness.”
Fiorentina also gave us a medical update on the team. “Michela Catena had surgery at the end of June. She is not ready to return to the field yet. Lana Clelland, Scotland’s national player, had surgery on her knee after the World Cup. She is currently rehabbing and needs 6 months of recovery before she can be back. Valery Vigilucci also had a knee surgery in the summer. She can be back in field earlier, but not in time for Arsenal.”
Arsenal are coming off a 2-1 win over West Ham this past weekend. They continued their run of wins stemming back to last season and are in great form coming into the Franchi. An impressive goal by Beth Mead followed up with a second from newcomer Jill Roord was enough for the victory over the fighting Elijah Wood and Charlie Hunnam’s. Arsenal’s top goal scorer Vivianne Miedema missed the game with hamstring tightness, but she is expected to be available for the Fiorentina game. The team expected to challenge Lyon for European supremacy should be pretty fit for this one.
Antonio is aware of the challenge his squad has in its first match against Arsenal. “We know who Arsenal are, and we have full, total respect for them.” Antonio continued, remembering their games against Chelsea, “Last year we played Chelsea at the Artemio Franchi. They came here and demolished us. Arsenal finished 12 points higher than that Chelsea team in the WSL Right now, they are at another level of women’s soccer. We must be honest about this game. It is not easy for me to admit this, but they are. They have already played 3 official games and we have yet to start competitive games in Series A. For us the first game is the game against the best team in England.”
My only add to Antonio is that Arsenal could very well be the best team in Europe this year. They are that good. It is a tough draw for our girls but never doubt how strong their fight is.
How to watch
TV: In Italy on SKY SPORT1. Not likely outside of Italy.
Online: Game starts at 7:00PM Italian time, 1:00PM EST. Fiorentina will stream the game live on their website, www.violachannel.tv, Facebook and Twitter.
Ted’s Memorial Blind Guess Department
I don’t have one. My only hope is that Antonio and the women accomplish what they set out for: perform well and enjoy this experience that is bringing Fiorentina once again to the top of European’s elite football.
Forza Viola! Forza Ragazze!