Football: Advantage for Fiorentina

A Barcelona squad that is arguably the strongest in Europe will be stretched to the limits for tonight's first leg of their European Cup- Winners' Cup semi-final against Italy's Fiorentina. Barcelona will be without six players, four of them first choices.

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.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Clinical Lead / RGN

£40000 - £42000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: IT Sales Consultant

£35000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This IT support company has a n...

Recruitment Genius: Works Engineer

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A works engineer is required in a progressive ...

Recruitment Genius: Trainee Hire Manager - Tool Hire

£21000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Our client is seeking someone w...

Day In a Page

Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

The Arab Spring reversed

Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
Theme parks continue to draw in thrill-seekers despite the risks - so why are we so addicted?

Why are we addicted to theme parks?

Now that Banksy has unveiled his own dystopian version, Christopher Beanland considers the ups and downs of our endless quest for amusement
Tourism in Iran: The country will soon be opening up again after years of isolation

Iran is opening up again to tourists

After years of isolation, Iran is reopening its embassies abroad. Soon, there'll be the chance for the adventurous to holiday there
10 best PS4 games

10 best PS4 games

Can’t wait for the new round of blockbusters due out this autumn? We played through last year’s offering
Transfer window: Ten things we learnt

Ten things we learnt from the transfer window

Record-breaking spending shows FFP restraint no longer applies
Migrant crisis: UN official Philippe Douste-Blazy reveals the harrowing sights he encountered among refugees arriving on Lampedusa

‘Can we really just turn away?’

Dead bodies, men drowning, women miscarrying – a senior UN figure on the horrors he has witnessed among migrants arriving on Lampedusa, and urges politicians not to underestimate our caring nature
Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger as Isis ravages centuries of history

Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger...

... and not just because of Isis vandalism
Girl on a Plane: An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack

Girl on a Plane

An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack
Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

The author of 'The Day of the Jackal' has revealed he spied for MI6 while a foreign correspondent
Markus Persson: If being that rich is so bad, why not just give it all away?

That's a bit rich

The billionaire inventor of computer game Minecraft says he is bored, lonely and isolated by his vast wealth. If it’s that bad, says Simon Kelner, why not just give it all away?
Euro 2016: Chris Coleman on course to end half a century of hurt for Wales

Coleman on course to end half a century of hurt for Wales

Wales last qualified for major tournament in 1958 but after several near misses the current crop can book place at Euro 2016 and end all the indifference