Fiorentina Club Focus: Season Preview 2013/14
After a season where they were only six minutes away from Champions League qualification, Fiorentina are back and ready to build off of last season’s stunning success under the tutelage of Vincenzo Montella.
With the Viola set to host Catania at the Stadio Artemio Franchi on Monday, we’ll take a look at the revamped Viola side and why this could be the season the Gigliati return to Europe’s most prestigious club competition after qualifying for the Europa League last campaign.
Widely heralded as the Serie A’s most entertaining side last season, Fiorentina are back for another season under the guidance of Montella. After a spectacular opening act with the Florence side, expectations are high going into the new campaign as fans are hopeful the Viola can take that next step. With last season’s final day disappointment (and justifiable anger) behind them, Montella and his men will look to put on an even more impressive encore after what can only be described as an exciting summer for the two-time Scudetto winners.
Mario Gomez from Bayern Munich
The summer happenings begin and end with the transfer coup that was Mario Gomez’s signing from reigning Champions League winners Bayern Munich for €20 million.
Presented in front of 20,000 adoring Viola fans on July 15th, the 28-year-old will give Fiorentina what they were sorely lacking last season: a penalty box predator in the prime of his career.
Noted as a pure goalscorer (as evidenced by his 113 goals in 174 appearances for Bayern), Viola fans will be hoping that he’ll form a dangerous partnership with Adem Ljajic and/or Giuseppe Rossi in the Fiorentina attack. With the departure of Stevan Jovetic to Manchester City, Viola fans may very well anoint the Riedlingen native their new fan favourite if he comes as advertised. And let’s be honest, he should be a fan favourite based solely on this song about him.
Josip Ilicic from Palermo
Palermo midfielder Josip Ilicic has joined the Viola ranks after his €9m move from Sicily. The Slovenian midfielder is coming off his most prolific season to date, scoring 10 goals in 31 appearances in a campaign that ended in relegation for the Rosanero. Largely played as an attacker last season, Montella will likely slot Ilicic into midfield alongside David Pizarro, Alberto Aquilani and last season’s revelation Borja Valero.
While he won’t score as many goals as last season, Ilicic’s versatility will provide Montella with an array of options should the tactician have to change things on the fly. At the ripe age of 25, the hope is that the former Palermo man will consistently put his skills on display and not revert back to his form from the 2011/12 season.
Joaquin from Malaga
The final noteworthy signing comes in the shape of Spanish winger Joaquin, who joined from cash strapped Malaga for the paltry sum of €2m. The 32-year-old is making his first foray into Italian football after spending his entire career in Spain.
While not expected to be a regular starter, Joaquin will provide pace, dribbling and excellent crossing down the right wing and allow Montella to rotate his squad as the club venture into the Europa League this season.
To round things out are the signings of Marcos Alonso, Gustavo Munua, Marko Bakic and Massimo Ambrosini. A special mention must be given to Giuseppe Rossi, who despite being signed in January and making one appearance last season, will finally be able to contribute regularly to the Viola after spending nearly two years on the sidelines due to injury.
Stevan Jovetic to Manchester City
After five seasons at the club Jo-Jo finally headed for the exit door after a season of constant speculation regarding his future. Fiorentina held firm in their decision not to sell him to rivals Juventus, allowing Manchester City to come in and sign the Montenegrin for €30m.
While Viola fans were bitter after his sale, his departure was all but certain and allowed the club to bring in Gomez which is no small feat. With the club having learned how to deal with Jovetic’s situation, the hope is that they can replicate it with renegade Adem Ljajic, who’s future at the club will keep Viola fans on edge from now until September 2nd.
Other notable exits include Giulio Migliaccio, Mohamed Sissoko and Emiliano Viviano as they returned to their parent club after spending last season on loan at Fiorentina. Promising striker Haris Seferovic was sold to Spanish side Real Sociedad for €2.3m after impressing on loan at Novara last season while Mattia Cassani, Romulo and Michele Camporese have all been loaned out.
Coach Vincenzo Montella
As mentioned earlier Montella returns for his second season on the bench in Florence, and his position is as solid as any coach in the Serie A. With reports indicating the Napoli native is set to extend his contract with the Viola until 2017, it is clear that he is intent on growing with the plan that owner Andrea Della Valle has put into place. With a style of play that has won fans over, and a squad that is arguably stronger than last season’s, the sky is the limit for the former Roma boss who is making a name for himself despite his young age.
Prediction: 2nd place
Overly ambitious? Perhaps, but why not? Fiorentina have largely kept the same core from last season’s impressive campaign while adding players to fill obvious voids. If, and it’s a big if, the Viola are able to bring in a proven Serie A goalkeeper before the start of the season (come on Stefano Sorrentino) they will have a roster that can challenge anyone in the peninsula.
If they don’t and Neto continues his poor pre-season form, the Viola could lose some vital points along the way that could mean the difference between playing in the prestigious Champions League instead of the languishing Europa League.
Follow Adriano Boin on Twitter: @Boin44