Football: Advantage for Fiorentina
Thursday 10 April 1997
Barcelona warmed up for the game by thrashing Sporting Gijon 4-0 over the weekend and were boosted by the news that both their main rivals for second place in the Spanish League and the leaders, Real Madrid, were held to draws.
But seven points still separate Barcelona from their arch-rivals and their coach Bobby Robson knows that his main chance of serving out the second year of his contract lies in taking a European title.
Barcelona won the Cup-Winners' Cup in 1979, 1982 and 1989 but Fiorentina are far from overawed. Their Argentinian striker Gabriel Batistuta said: "I've never felt inferior to anyone. Sure, the Catalan side has 22 great players and lots of international experience but the real Fiorentina can beat any side."
The Fiorentina coach, Claudio Ranieri, believes it would be a major tactical error for his side to concentrate all their attention on Barcelona's Brazilian striker, Ronaldo.
''That would be equivalent to allowing a free hand to all the other nine players, all equally useful," he said.
Fiorentina, who were unlucky in a 0-0 draw with Internazionale on Saturday, are ninth in Serie A, 17 points behind the league leaders, Juventus.
That lowly league standing reflects the extent to which the Florence club have based their whole season on their European campaign. They will be handicapped by the absence of two first-choice players. The former Everton winger Andrei Kanchelskis is cup-tied while the former Arsenal midfielder Stefan Schwarz is suspended.
Although Ranieri was giving nothing away about his plans, he may be tempted to play a cautious 4-5-1 formation to compensate for the loss of Schwarz's covering work and the extra width added by Kanchelskis.
Sandro Cois, Emiliano Bigica, Anselmo Robbiati and the Brazilian Luis Oliveira could all line up in midfield alongside Rui Costa, leaving Batistuta on his own up front.
As for Ronaldo, he may be marked in defence by Lorenzo Amoruso and in midfield by Cois. Robson will be without the key midfielders Ivan de la Pena and Josep Guardiola, both of whom are suspended.
Guardiola and De la Pena tend to supply the ideas, while injuries have put paid to the two Barcelona men best known for their commitment and pace - the overlapping defender Sergi and the utility man Luis Enrique.
Latest in Sport
Ireland v England Six Nations match preview: What time does it start and where can I watch it?
Chelsea vs Tottenham combined XI: Hugo Lloris or Thibaut Courtois? Willian or Christian Eriksen? Who makes the final cut?
Manchester United vs Sunderland match report: Wayne Rooney scores twice but referee Roger East sends off Wes Brown instead of John O'Shea
Scotland vs Italy match report: Italians stun Murrayfield as Scots clinch defeat from the jaws of victory
Manchester United player ratings: Just how bad was Angel Di Maria to be withdrawn at half-time?
- 1 Michelle Rodriguez: Fast & Furious actor apologises after telling 'minorities' to stop taking on 'white' roles
- 2 Raif Badawi, the Saudi Arabian blogger sentenced to 1,000 lashes, may now face the death penalty
- 3 PornHub turns masturbation into energy in bid to save the planet
- 4 Robert Mugabe eats a zoo for 'obscene' 91st birthday party
- 5 The remarkable archaeological underwater discovery that could open up a new chapter in the study of European and British prehistory
New theory could prove how life began and disprove God
This is what it's like to be dead, according to a guy who died for a bit
'Cash for access' scandal: Sir Malcolm Rifkind says 'unrealistic' for MPs to live on £67,000 salary
'Jihadi John': CAGE representative storms off Sky News accusing Kay Burley of Islamophobia
Ukip would cut billions from Scottish budget to fund English tax cuts
Russia's roadmap for annexing eastern Ukraine 'leaked from Vladimir Putin's office'
£9 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This role is based within a small family run ...
£28000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This Design and marketing agenc...
£46000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This property investment firm are lookin...
£18000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company specialises provid...