This game should be one of the most interesting fixtures of the Europa’s League knock out stage, for both teams are in very good form : Spurs are second on the EPL Table and La Viola enjoy a solid third place in Italy’s Serie A.
This year’s encounter will be the second one in the clubs’ official history; surely the Spurs faithful remember the dull 1-1 draw at White Hart Lane, followed by a 2-0 defeat, a game played between a PL game and the Capital Cup Final vs Chelsea?
Both teams have a vision on Champions League European nights, so will they privilege a CL finish in their respective leagues or will they try to win the competition and the St Graal, meaning a place in next season’s Champions League contenders?
The game will take place at the Stadio Artemio Franchi, La Viola’s home since 1931 (capacity 47.290) Before that, let’s start with some history about Tottenham’s future opponents: ACF (Associazione Calcio Firenze) Fiorentina or La Viola, commonly refered by their fans (due to their shirts distinctive purple/violet color, are based in Florence, Tuscany since 1925; the club have won two Italian Championships, in 1955/56 and 1968/69, six Coppa Italia trophies and one Italian Super Cup. They also won the UEFA Cup Winners in 1960/61 but lost next year’s one. The club’s owner, the La Della Valle family have invested heavily these past years and now they begin to enjoy some positive results.
Tottenham and Fiorentina played their first official game last season, but it wasn’t their first encounter; they’ve had also two friendlies in their common history: the first one for Bill’s Nicolson testimonial in 2001( Spurs 3-0: Ferdinand 15′ Poyet 30′ Iversen 50′) and the second one in August 2010, another Spurs win 3-2 ( Pavlynchenco 27′ Keane 57′ 89 ‘ and Gilardino 7′; Ljajlic 36’ for La Viola).
Will this game help to exorcise some bad memories, like Roberto Soldado’s shattered confidence in front of the goal and the Capital’s Cup defeat , three days later ? Tottenham isn’t any more the team that the Italians met last season. They sit second on EPL’s Table, they enjoyed a victory away at Manchester’s City den, their tormenters these last years and with the best defense of the league, their future is bright / lily-white(!)
Of course, the person who will decide about the team’s priorities is the ONLY ONE Spurs Head Coach, Mauricio Pochettino. Will he rest some of his sterling players and give a chance to some young but very much talented Academy players ? It won’t be the first time, we shall see.
Fiorentina are in the same situation; they’re fighting with Napoli, Roma and Atalanta for the third place in the Scudetto,for third place is the precious “sesame/ ticket” to the Champions League Contest. Meanwhile, there’s Tottenham to tame, but the Italians are aware that this isn’t last year’s team, but one serious EPL contender; Head Coach Paulo Sousa will have some sleepless nights, trying to decide what should be his priority : Scudetto or Europa League ?
It’s true that life is not easy for the Viola’s manager; however after beating a serious opponent as the Internazionale, he has some difficult games to think about: Bergamo(Away) the (return) game at White Hart Lane,then games vs Napoli and Roma, both teams contenders to Champions League race.
Cups goalkeeper Sepe should be between the sticks instead of the regular Tatarusanu, but Barça’s Christian Tello will be out for he’s not listed with UEFA: Zarate is out too (?)and nobody knows if Badelj will be fit enough to play.
Will Sousa and Pochettino make the right decision about their clubs’ priorities and get ready to challenge each other for a place in Europe ?
Here’s both ( plausible or not) line-ups:
ACF FIORENTINA (3-4-2-1) HC Paulo Sousa
Sepe (gk); Tomovic; Astori; Rodriguez; Blaszczykowski; Valero; Tino Costa; Alonso; Ilicic; Zarate; Babacar;
TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR (4-2-3-1) HC Mauricio Pochettino
Vorm (gk); Trippier; Wimmer; Alderweireld; Rose; Carrol; Mason; Onomah; Chadli; Chadli; Son;