Straight from the dark heart of Italy
On any other day Fiorentina would have headed home satisfied with a 2-1 defeat at the Alliance Arena. However, Miroslav Klose’s winner for Bayern Munich was so blatantly offside that the Viola’s confidence could well be shaken to the core even more.
NEWS: Klose goal gives Bayern advantage
The last thing Cesare Prandelli and his men can afford is another period of extended navel-gazing entering into this crucial period of the season. The club has been extremely fragile since Adrian Mutu's crash diet.
And last night in Germany, conspiracy theories concerning the officiating were trotted out from the moment anyone involved with the club could get in front of a microphone.
But in the sober light of day, the team should take the positives home from Munich.
The home side did not look like Europe’s form team – something that had been trumpeted in the build-up to the tie – and certainly not like prospective European champions.
In short, Bayern are there for the taking in the second leg. The Viola, after all, have that all-important goal in their back pocket and can call on those evenings earlier in the competition when they outplayed both Liverpool and Lyon at the Artemio Franchi.
On the other hand, exiting the competition at this stage could well send the team into free-fall.
Prandelli, tipped to replace Marcello Lippi as Italy coach after the World Cup, needs to concentrate on club rather than country. For the first time in his five-year tenure there have been rumblings of discontent towards the saintly Cesare after the team picked up just one point in the last five games.
However, he has taken measures to arrest the slide and away from home we should expect a more pragmatic approach.
With the inexperienced Stevan Jovetic unable to provide requisite consistency in the creative department, the 4-1-4-1 formation which nullified Bayern will now be the norm.
Alberto Gilardino may have been going through a barren spell in front of goal but his work-rate and willingness to create space for others has not been blunted.
Riccardo Montolivo was handed the captain’s armband when Dario Dainelli and Martin Jorgensen left the club in the winter break, and despite his inexperience wearing the armband he has demonstrated leadership qualities.
Once again Prandelli must be applauded for reinventing a player, much as he did with Juan Vargas – who has been transformed from an ordinary left-back into a dynamic all-rounder along the flank.
This time it was the labouring Montolivo who received the make-over treatment and he is much more comfortable playing in a withdrawn role where his wide range of passing can be better exploited.
Rather than lament on what has gone before Fiorentina should concentrate on using this adversity and turning it into an opportunity to re-ignite their season.
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I agree that Bayern are there for the taking, but why didn't Fiorentina go for it last night? The Bayern centre backs and keeper are hopeless. I'm sure Bayern fans are wondering how they ended up with the likes of Van Buyten and Demichelis playing for a club that size. 10 years ago they were winning this comp. with Andersson, Kuffour and Kahn at the back, who were all formidable. Yes the goal was well offside but I have little sympathy for Fiorentina as they sat back like idiots instead of pushing up and finishing the tie in Germany. Prandelli has to take some of the blame for this for taking off Jovetic for yet another defender. Gobbi also deserved to go, despite what people say, he clearly tried to catch Robben with an elbow. But Italian teams seem to be better when behind so they still have a good chance of going through against an average side.
As for Milan well they probably missed their chance to put out one of the poorest United sides in quite a while by missing some fine chances with a decent Ronaldinho at the heart of most of it. Beckham should have been off long before he was too. I think they can score 2 or 3 at Old Trafford but I still think they have little chance of progressing, especially with Rooney at the other end, who seems to be United's only true star now.
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