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Fiorentina stagger back into the Conference League

UEFA have decided to let the Viola replace Juventus and hopefully reprise their run to the final.

ACF Fiorentina v West Ham United FC - UEFA Europa Conference League Final 2022/23
2023-2024 was just the dress rehearsal.
Photo by Chris Brunskill/Fantasista/Getty Images

“Unfinished business” is one of those phrases that’s carved out a real niche in the popular imagination of English-language soccer fans. It’s very rare that teams get a chance to settle their unfinished business in a continental competition, but Fiorentina will receive that opportunity after UEFA slotted the Viola into the Conference League after banning Juventus from Europe.

We’ve known for quite some time that the Juvenuts had picked up a ban for financial irregularities, although UEFA’s official ruling was only released this morning, as our dear friends over at BWRAO detailed. It was unclear, though, if their spot in the third-tier tournament would go to the 8th-place team (the fighting Rocchi Commissi) or devolve to another league entirely.

After falling just short in the final last year, Fiorentina will try again to win the trophy in 2023-2024. Most pertinently for those of us writing about the team in July, this move should inform the club’s transfer business for the rest of the summer, as adding another run in the Conference League will require a very different approach than if the Viola had only been competing in Serie A and the Coppa Italia.

That need for squad depth will be particularly pressing, as Fiorentina will enter the Conference League in the playoff round, adding another couple of high-stakes matches to the season. This means that, once again, our boys will play more games than any team in the top flight. No World Cup break in January (again, so stupid) will help, but these plauers are going to put a lot of miles on their legs for a second consecutive season.

Even so, the chance for another deep run in Europe is really exciting. Vincenzo Italiano and his charges now have some experience in this competition, which should only help them return to the final. Expecting a win is obviously ridiculous, as taking home a trophy requires a magical combination of talent, timing, preparation, and luck, but even getting the opportunity despite an 8th-place finish is an exciting bonus.

The draw for the playoff round is on 7 August 2023, with the 2-legged on August 24 and August 31 to determine who gets a spot in the group stage. We won’t know their potential opponents for another 3 weeks, but at least we know that Fiorentina’s back in Europe, and that’s worth celebrating.