Thursday, August 27, 2009

A night of living dangerously

It began with talk of important arrivals at the Artemio Franchi. Sting was in the crowd, apparently, as well as new signing Lorenzo De Silvestri. Both, however, declined to speak to the waiting Sky Italia microphones.

The Fiesole was in the mood for a big European night. Showing off its full colours and voice, the Curva declared its faith that the Viola could make it to the Champions League group stages. Unfortunately, somebody forgot to tell the team.

Lacklustre would be the most kind description of Fiorentina's first half against Sporting Lisbon. The visitors bossed the game pretty much from the outset as Cesare Prandelli's men looked unsure of their approach. They knew they really should attack - but somehow could not bring themselves to do so.

When Joao Moutinho gave the Portuguese the lead it was no more than they deserved. You could grumble about a clear handball in the build-up to their free-kick but you could not argue they were the better team. Some dressing-room half-time magic was in order.

That's where Stevan Jovetic came into play. The introduction of JoJo and, hopefully, a verbal rocket in the direction of Riccardo Montolivo, transformed the team. For about 15 pulsating minutes the boys in purple revealed their true colours.

This is a team that only gives its best when going forward and taking the initiative. Vargas, Marchionni, Mutu, Montolivo, Gilardino, Jovetic and the rest are drawn towards goal. Ask them to simply "control" a game and they just can't do it.

The proof came in the last desperately defended 15 minutes. Sporting had lost some of the crispness to their play but they still hemmed the Florentines in. It would not be the Viola, if they did not make you suffer.

Now we look forward to the Champions League group stages. A kindly draw would be nice. But, whoever we land, we know it will be torture all the way.

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