After edging past Rapid Wien in the playoff, Fiorentina booked its ticket to the Conference League group stage, giving fans hope of another run to the final and maybe, just maybe, the club’s first major trophy since 2001. Following the draw this morning, we now know that the Viola is in Group F, along with Ferencváros, Genk, and Čukarički.
It’s not the scariest draw possible but it’s hardly a cakewalk, either. Ferencváros has won the Hungarian league for the past 5 years and boasts a talented roster featuring 13 senior internationals. Genk also won its league last year and has the stable of young, talented players you’d expect from a successful Belgian club. Čukarički isn’t one of Serbia’s traditional powers but has finished 3rd for 3 straight seasons and looks to be on the rise.
For a team like Fiorentina that often struggles to maintain a deep squad, adding 6 more midweek games is a serious complication, even if the lack of a winter World Cup (idiots) means that it won’t be the same 2-games-per-week marathon last year was. Conference League clashes will occur on 21 September, 5 October, 26 October, 9 November, 30 November, and 14 December.
On the plus side, none of these opponents are too far away from Florence. Genk is the most distant at 1230 km/765 mi northwest, with Čukarički 1020 km/635 mi east and Ferencváros a mere 950 km/590 mi northeast. Finding flights shouldn’t be too difficult for any of these, as they’re all based in relatively large cities, and the farthest drive is 12 hours, so trains and automobiles will do if planes won’t. Expect the support to travel.
We’ll introduce these sides properly in the coming weeks—that kind of content is what the international break was designed for, as far as sad bloggers like me are concerned—but for now, we can start daydreaming Fiorentina’s triumphant return to the Conference League final in the Agia Sophia Stadium in Athens come 29 May 2024.