A turbulent two weeks ended in marvelous fashion for Fiorentina, who won a historic 2-0 victory over English and European giants Liverpool in the second game of the Champions League group phase. Nineteen-year-old Stevan Jovetic was the hero of the night, scoring both goals before an electric crowd at the Stadio Artemio Franchi. The Viola were completely dominant in a near-perfect first half in which they scored both their goals and allowed Liverpool almost nothing in terms of attack. The victory was sealed by a solid defensive second-half performance in which the Fiorentina backline was able to keep the world-class pair of Fernando Torres and Steven Gerrard at bay.
Even before kick-off, the match was historic. In an attempt to avoid any form of fan violence and to promote fair play and sportsmanship, Fiorentina and Liverpool agreed to a ‘twinning' in the weeks leading up to the match. Despite the historic partnership, the authorities were still cautious, and as a result, the sale of alcohol was banned inside and outside the stadium. Foreigners were unable to buy tickets until the day of the match, after the initial and much-contested decision not to admit them at all was amended. Despite the precautions, the atmosphere in the stadium was very friendly, with both supporting sections applauding each other throughout and mixing amicably before and after the match. It was the perfect atmosphere on a perfect night for the city of Florence.
A star is born
After a brilliant start in this year's campaign, the Fiorentina's Montenegrin wonder-kid, Jovetic, has captured the hearts and praise of an entire city. His inspired two-goal performance against Liverpool confirmed his talent and won him praise both at home and abroad (even the British press hailed the young star). Jovetic has now scored in three straight matches, including the match-winning penalty against Livorno and a strong header against Sampdoria, which he dedicated to Andrea Della Valle.
The immensely talented Jovetic claims he is far calmer this year than he was last year, and that he now feels fully settled in Florence. His showing against Liverpool has even led to comparisons with the legendary Roberto Baggio, although Jovetic is the first to say that he still had a lot of work to do. Jovetic's bright start and undeniable skill have led to inevitable interest from a handful of Europe's biggest clubs, including Juventus, Real Madrid, Chelsea, Manchester United and Bayern Munich. However, for the time being, he insists he is fully committed to the Viola cause.
Della Valle resigns
Fiorentina honorary president Andrea Della Valle announced his resignation last week after seven years at the helm of the club. He initially said a small group of detractors who sought to hinder the progress of the club fueled his decision. Both the team's coach Cesare Prandelli and its sporting director, Pantaleo Corvino, lamented the move, with the latter blaming the local media for the intense pressure they have placed upon the team in recent months.
Other reports claim that Della Valle was fed up with the lack of progress towards the proposed construction of a new stadium. With the original planned site of Sesto Fiorentino now in doubt, new negotiations have begun for a possible location in Castello, although at the moment, owner Diego Della Valle ensures they are nothing more than explorations.
Both the club and its supporters firmly back Andrea Della Valle's decision to resign. Many believe that after a break and a brief period of reflection, he will return.
Fiorentina followed up a brutal 3-1 loss to Roma on September 20 with back-to-back victories over Sampdoria and Livorno. Prandelli called the match against AC Roma the worst he had seen in over four years at the club as the Viola were blown away by a Roma side that claimed the victory in the game's opening 45 minutes. Fiorentina bounced back stronger than ever, beating Sampdoria 2-0 in Florence three days later, on September 23. The team finished off the week with a 1-0 derby win away against archrivals Livorno on September 26, which Prandelli dedicated to the departed Andrea Della Valle. The Viola currently sit in fourth place in the Serie A standings.