Fiorentina Club Focus: Viola show poor dinner etiquette at the Juventus Stadium
The Viola are in the driver’s seat for their Europa League tie against Juventus after an impressive 1-1 draw at the Juventus Stadium on Thursday night.
It was certainly a reassuring result after Sunday’s 1-0 defeat to the Bianconeri, a match that brought out the usual heated responses from both sides (we are assuming that Juventus are having a bit of indegestion after trying to have the Viola for dinner).
Thursday’s match started out in the worst way possible when Arturo Vidal continued his impressive campaign by opening up the goalscoring after only three minutes had gone by.
The early strike seemed to set the tone for the opening half with the Viola struggling to contain the Juventus attack due to some ragged defending (particularly from the increasingly disappointing Facundo Roncaglia).
After Vidal nearly doubled his tally just before the end of the first half as his effort clipped the crossbar, it looked as though the travelling Gigliati supporters would have to be content with a slim defeat ahead of next week’s return leg.
Instead the Bianconeri, as they have done so often in Europe over the past two seasons, failed to make the most of their advantage as they allowed the Viola to hang around in the background.
As such the decrease in intensity from the Bianconeri opened the door for marked improvement from the Viola just as they did in Sunday’s encounter, with the difference being their hard work and tenacity was rewarded on Thursday.
And what an important goal it may prove to be for the club but most of all for the goalscorer himself.
After nearly seven months to the day (or 193 days) since his knee injury, Mario Gomez finally got the goalscoring monkey off his back by levelling the match in the 79th minute thanks to a strike that only a player of his quality could apply the finish to.
Josip Ilicic lofted a long ball over the top that found its way between a distracted Martin Caceres and an out of position Angelo Ogbonna and onto the path of the German just outside the Juventus penalty area.
With Gianluigi Buffon rushing off his line to close the angle on Gomez, the former Bayern Munich star controlled the pass with a deft first touch before coolly slotting home his third goal in what has been an injury hampered campaign.
It was a welcome sight for the towering striker who continues to inch that much closer to regaining his best form with every minute he passes while on the pitch.
To have that first goal since September come against what is the Viola’s most hated rivals in a crucial Europa League tie is a wonderful script to see play out in what has been a season filled with drama and tragedy for the club.
Curiously the result means that the Viola are the only club to remain undefeated in this year’s edition of the competition after Ludogorets’ heavy defeat to Valencia.
Vitally important? Not really. A good omen? Hopefully, especially knowing that this result is effectively only halftime of the 180 minute encounter.
Before the return leg the Viola will have to concern themselves with Chievo, a side who have only collected two victories from their 14 away matches this season.
Without Borja Valero in the lineup it is safe to say we will likely see a different Fiorentina than the one we saw on Thursday, but if Montella plays his cards right you would expect the Viola to pick up all three points.
More so than just another three points, a win would be the perfect way to prepare for next Thursday’s return leg at the Stadio Artemio Franchi in what will likely be a vivacious atmosphere for the European encounter.
With an away goal under their belts Viola fans are allowed to dream of what could be, but it would be best if Montella kept his side focused for what will likely be as important a match as the Viola have played in several seasons.
Plus, with Juventus having mentioned they were looking forward to having Fiorentina for dinner via their Twitter account, the only polite thing to do would be to serve them the coldest dessert they’ve seen since a certain trip to Istanbul only four months ago…
Follow Adriano Boin on Twitter: @Boin44