Fiorentina picked up back-to-back wins in the Serie A as they beat Catania at home on November 1, and then a week later picked up three points away to Udinese on November 8. The Viola were deserved 3-1 winners against Catania; however the match was in question until late in the second half, when goals by Marchionni and Gilardino secured the victory.
A week later, Fiorentina traveled to Udinese with a depleted squad due to injuries. Prandelli was forced to do without regulars Gamberini, Dainelli, Zanetti, Mutu and Jovetic. Nevertheless, the Viola’s character shined through as they still managed to pull out a 1-0 victory over a formidable Udinese. Vargas scored the lone goal on a curling free kick just six minutes from the end to resolve what had been a very even match.
The pair of wins put the Viola back on track after going four games without a victory, and saw them move up to fourth in the Serie A table heading into the international break.
Champions League. Sandwiched between these two Serie A victories, Fiorentina hosted Debrecen in a Champions League encounter on November 4. Despite torrid weather conditions, which unfortunately kept many home supporters away from the stadium, the match didn’t suffer much as the two sides combined for seven goals as Fiorentina cruised to a 5-2 victory. Five different Fiorentina players found the net with Mutu, Dainelli, Montolivo, Marchionni and Gilardino all contributing to the cause. The win puts Fiorentina just one point adrift of group leaders Lyon, and more importantly, five points clear of third place Liverpool. The Viola can clinch a coveted spot in the next round with a win over Lyon, whom they will host in two weeks time.
Mutu to return after international break. Adrian Mutu looks set to rejoin Fiorentina following his recent surgery to repair the damaged meniscus in his left-knee. The surgery appears to have gone fine, and despite missing out on the visit to Udinese, the Romanian should be fit and available following the international lay-off.
Montolivo receives late Italy call. Fiorentina midfielder Riccardo Montolivo was called up at the last minute by Marcelo Lippi to replace injured Roma midfielder Daniele De Rossi. Striker Alberto Gilardino and winger Mario Marchionni were also included in the squad that will face Holland and Sweden in two upcoming friendlies.
Gilardino and Marchionni have been recent mainstays in Lippi’s squad and appear set to make the trip to South Africa this summer barring injury. Montolivo remains more of an uncertainty and will need to make the most of this final opportunity to stake his claim for a spot at the World Cup.
All three Viola players played at least a small role in Italy’s 0-0 draw with Holland in Pescara on November 14. Striker Alberto Gilardino got the starting nod, but managed to create little in terms of attacking chances, and was substituted in the second half. Winger Marco Marchionni and midfielder Riccardo Montolivo were both second half substitutes, but like most of the Azzurri on that night, they failed to make a great impact. The surprise of the evening, in fact, came from another Tuscan side, as Livorno youngster Antonio Candreva was was among the best performers on the night.
Vargas draws praise. Fiorentina winger Juan Manuel Vargas has perhaps been the revelation of the season so far, not only in Florence, but in the entire Serie A. After an up and down campaign a year ago in which he split time between left-fullback and left-midfield, Vargas has been deployed solely as an attacking winger this season, and to devastating effect.
The Peruvian has been a true difference maker for the Viola this season, as his crosses and set-pieces, along with some timely goal-scoring and phenomenal work-ethic have led many to name him the most in-form winger in Europe.
Following his most recent decisive performance against Udinese, rumors have resurfaced linking Vargas with a potential move to Real Madrid. However, the player was quick to refute the claims, stating that he was ‘deaf’ to the voices linking him to a move away from Florence, and humbly claiming that he still had much to learn and was focused solely on Fiorentina. Words that Fiorentina supporters will most certainly not be deaf to.