UEFA Cup Group Stage, Day 3 – Fiorentina Manage Only a draw to AEK Athens, but Remain Top of Group C

UEFA CupFor Fiorentina’s 100th match in European competition, the Viola supporters would have probably wished for a happier atmosphere. The collective hearts still heavy over the recent loss of Manuela Prandelli, the team was nonetheless at in the Olympic Stadium of Athens, ready to battle it out with a fierce (on home ground at least) Greek team and a pretty rough field. Needless to say, Cesare Prandelli was taking a leave of absence and was replaced by vice-coach Gabriele Pin.

UEFA Cup Group Stage, Day 3 - AEK Athens 1-1 Fiorentina

Everyone wanted to see Bobo Vieri, and instead everyone found Osvaldo. The usual Pablo Daniel Osvaldo, selfish and generous at the same time, because that Fiorentina left wing of his was both a dream and a nightmare for the Greek opponents: a nightmare because of Osvaldo’s constant percussions, a dream because of the decisively no-day of Federico Balzaretti tonight (and associated lack of Osvaldo’s support). In any case, final conclusions aside, the match begun quite on the exciting pace, especially for Fiorentina who went forward with all guns blazing, creating most of the chances of the first 30 minutes.

Eventually, the Viola broke through and took the lead in the 29th minute, and all it took were 5 passes. What’s so special about that, you may ask? Well, those 5 passes were all the ball needed to travel from one end of the field to the other, litterally: from Montolivo to Liverani, back to Montolivo, executing a through pass for Vieri. Bobo immediately set up Osvaldo, who dribbled his marker and armed a low accurate shot into the bottom corner. 1-0 Fiorentina.

The Viola’s lead didn’t last very long though, because less than 5 minutes later the Greek hosts were level: from Manu to Dellas, through to the left for Julio Cesar (not the Inter keeper). Balzaretti got in the way of the cross, and unfortunately deflected into his own net with Sebastien Frey helpless. 1-1.

From then on, both teams redefined the notion of “battling it out”, especially because the field was in absolutely horrible conditions, making each pass and each control of the ball very very hard to execute. Fabio Liverani was litterally under an all-out-marking spell, reducing his moving space to virtually zero, but managed to nonetheless to take a few stabs at the net, especially in the 2nd half. The one having a real ball though was Zdravko Kuzmanovic, attempting his long-range shot on more than one occasion (wide). Osvaldo had another chance to make it two with a close-range header, but found the intervention of the Greek keeper ready.

Eventually, it ended as it all started: on a tied game. All in all, not too bad a result given that the leadership of Group C is still intact. Speaking of Group C, the other match of the day between Elfsborg and Mladá Boleslav ended 3-1 for the Czech team. After today’s results (Villareal was on break) the group rankings are now the following: Fiorentina 5 pts. (3 GP), Villareal 3 (2), Mlada 3 (2), AEK Athens 2 (2), Elfsborg 1 (3). Fiorentina’s immediate next match will be against Inter on Sunday, and the Viola will undoubtedly be expecting much much harder opposition..

 AEK Athens FC
[Match Highlights]
 ACF Fiorentina
GOALSCORERS: 29′ Osvaldo, 34′ Balzaretti (o.g.)
AEK ATHENS (4-5-1): Moretto – Ramos Silva, Papastathopoulos, Dellas, Arruabarrena – Manu, Tozser, N’saliva (71’ Kafes), Julio Cesar (81’ Pappas) – Kone (55’ Manduca) – Blanco. (bench: Macho, Zikos, Azcarate, Bourbos). Coach: Serra Ferrer
FIORENTINA (4-3-3): Frey – Balzaretti, Dainelli, Kroldrup, Pasqual – Kuzmanovic (81’ Gobbi), Liverani, Montolivo – Jorgensen, Vieri (86’ Pazzini), Osvaldo. (bench: Lupatelli, Gamberini, Vanden Borre, Donadel, Semioli). Coach: Prandelli (substituted by Pin)



Posted in Fiorentina, UEFA Cup |

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