Fiorentina battling demands of success

ROME - Fiorentina could be in danger of overstretching their resources as they fight for success on three fronts with high-flying AS Roma visiting them in a Serie A encounter on Sunday.

The Tuscan side looked like serious title contenders earlier this season, enjoying a strong start to the season and qualification for the Champions League last 16 by topping their group.

However, a recent dip in form has dropped them down to 11th in Serie A with the demands of still being involved in the Italian Cup meaning they rarely have a full week of rest between matched.

Complicating matters further is Romania forward Adrian Mutu's provisional suspension for failing a drugs test.

The risk is that by spreading themselves too thinly, Fiorentina will end the season with no trophies and outside the European qualification slots, although coach Cesare Prandelli seems happy to take the chance.

"We will try to take each game as it comes. We are proud to say we are busy on three fronts," he told reporters after Wednesday's 1-0 defeat at league champions Inter Milan in the first leg of their Italian Cup semi-final.

Nevertheless, Prandelli admitted to concerns about his side's mental fitness earlier this week.

"At the moment it's the psychological side that most worries me," said Prandelli, who is the Italian media's favourite to replace Marcello Lippi if he quits as Italy boss after the World Cup.

"We have to re-discover enthusiasm for our way of playing, knowing that we might face counter-attacks, but we might score too."

Roma are also engaged on three fronts but that has not stopped them climbing level with second-placed AC Milan, having played one game more, with the help of a 17-match unbeaten run in all competitions - Serie A, Italian Cup and Europa League.

They have done this despite injury problems with new arrival Luca Toni and captain Francesco Totti, who is expected to return from a knock in Roma's Italian Cup semi-final first leg at home against Udinese on Thursday.

Roma coach Claudio Ranieri, who has also been linked to the Italy job, will be unable to call on suspended centre back Nicolas Burdisso this weekend, while Prandelli will be without Brazilian defender Felipe for the same reason.

Leaders Inter, eight points clear after their visit to Parma was snowed off last week, face Cagliari at home on Sunday.

Milan will be seeking to end a three-match winless run in all competitions at Bologna on Sunday while new boss Alberto Zaccheroni is hoping for his first victory in the Juventus dugout at Livorno on Saturday.