Viola on fire even with Prandelli doubts
At the beginning of the Fiorentina-Udinese match on March 28, the Curva Fiesole had one bold message for the team: ‘Tifiamo per la maglia' (‘We support the team'), a reminder to everyone that even if changes occur on the bench or in top management, Viola fans would, nonetheless, remain faithful to the ‘jersey.' Amid more rumors about head coach Cesare Prandelli's possible departure to archrival Juventus, the Viola was able to persevere and win the match 4-1. Juan Manuel Vargas, Alberto Gilardino, Mario Alberto Santana and Jovetìc each scored a goal, while Udinese only succeeded once in getting the ball past Viola goalkeeper Sébastien Frey. The Viola earned three important points and moved up to eighth position in the Serie A rankings.
A day of misunderstandings and changes
On March 30, the same day that Bayern Monaco and Lyon, the two teams that the Fiorentina beat in the Champions League, played and won their quarterfinal matches, Viola fans woke up to some unsettling news. Word quickly spread that Viola patron Diego Della Valle was quitting the Fiorentina. With no motive explained in the announcement, many feared that the Fiorentina would be sold by the Della Valla clan. There was also speculation that Prandelli's indecision about staying with the Fiorentina as well as the slow progress for the development of the Cittadella, a new Viola stadium and commerical and residential complex, was behind Della Valle's change in plans. It wasn't until the early evening that a final statement was issued: Diego Della Valle is stepping down from his role as president and would name his brother Andrea Della Valle president of the ACF Fiorentina after Easter. To extinguish one last rumor the next day, the Viola's official website posted a statement that the team is not for sale.
Prandelli to stay until 2011
Even after a press conference on March 12, when Prandelli said that he was willing to sign another contract for five years as head coach of the Viola, more rumors surfaced. After the events of March 30, Prandelli issued a statement saying he was staying with the Fiorentina, ‘without doubts and perplexity' until the end of his contract in 2011. In response, Viola fans posted a sign at the stadium saying, ‘Cesare, Florence loves you.'
One-year ban for Mutu?
Viola striker Adrian Mutu twice failed drug tests in January, after matches against Bari and Lazio. He tested positive to traces of Sibutramin, an appetite suppressant. Since January 20, Mutu has been suspended from play in Europe while waiting for his sentence. On March 31, the Italian Olympic Committee's antidoping prosecutor asked for a one-year ban, the minimum penalty according to CONI regulations for failing a drug test. The sentence might have been higher had it been ruled that Mutu had a relapse. The final sentence,wich cannot be appealed, will be pronounced in a few weeks. If given a one-year ban, the Romanian forward, who is still under contract with the Fiorentina until June 2012, will not be able to play again until January 2011. His attorney hopes the sentence will be reduced so Mutu can resume playing at the beginning of next season.
Fiorentina ties in Parma
After a tumultuous week of events for the Fiorentina, the team had high hopes of winning the match against Parma on the day before Easter. Viola defender Lorenzo De Silvestri marked his first goal in the Serie A to give the team an advantage in the first half. Parma was aggressive in the second half, and ex-Viola Bojinov scored a goal to tie up the match. The Viola earned one point for the tie, and remained in eighth position.
Florence honoring Borgonovo
Even though striker Stefano Borgnovo played for the Fiorentina for only three years, he left his mark on the team and fans' hearts. His career came to a halt in 2008 when he was diagnosed with Lou Gehrig's disease. During the Italian Cup semifinals match Fiorentina-Inter next April 13, the city of Florence will be presenting him with the ‘fiorino d'oro' medal, to honor him, his wife, and his family, who are battling the crippling disease together. Mayor Matteo Renzi said that the honor is also an emotional tribute to Borgonovo because he has always loved Florence. During the game, money will be raised to fund more research in finding a cure for the disease.
Happy birthday to Avramov and Natali!
Vlada Avramov and Cesare Natali, both born on April 5, celebrated their 31st birthdays this year. Serbian goalkeeper Avramov has been playing for the Fiorentina since 2006, and he has participated on the Serbian national team. Viola defender Natali arrived in Florence last year. He started his professional career in his home town of Bergamo, where he played for Atalanta.
A special happy April 1 birthday to former Viola captain Giancarlo Antognoni, who was the team's midfielder for 15 years, from 1972 to 1987. Even though he was born in Marsicano, near Perugia, he returned to Florence after ending his professional soccer career. On his birthday, he said, ‘Florence's love gave me more than winning any championship.'