UEFA Europa League Preview: Juventus v Fiorentina
Vincenzo Montella’s charges visited the impregnable Juventus Stadium in Serie A on Sunday and, like many before them this season, fell to defeat with Kwadwo Asamoah’s 42nd-minute winner proving enough to seal a 1-0 win for the hosts.
They travel to Turin for the second time in five days on Thursday for the first leg of their all-Italian clash hoping to upset the form books and become the first side to win at the home of the reigning Serie A champions since Bayern Munich in the Champions League on April 10.
Juve have won 12 consecutive home games in all competitions, and have a perfect record in the league with 14 wins out of 14.
However, Fiorentina can take heart from the fact they are the only side to have beaten Antonio Conte’s men in the league this season, Giuseppe Rossi’s hat-trick seeing them come from 2-0 down with 25 minutes to play to win 4-2 in an incredible game at the Stadio Artemio Franchi back in October.
They will have to make do without their chief goalscorer on Thursday however, the 27-year-old still not having recovered from injuring knee ligaments in early January.
Montella’s side made it through to this stage in comfortable fashion, claiming a 3-1 win in the first leg in Denmark against Esbjerg before securing their passage with a 1-1 draw in Italy.
Their opponents were even more assured in their progression, winning 2-0 in both legs against Turkey’s Trabzonspor to secure a 4-0 aggregate success.
Pablo Daniel Osvaldo scored in both legs of that tie, his first goals since arriving on loan from Southampton. Osvaldo was in the last Fiorentina side to win at Juventus back in March 2008, scoring a last-minute header in a 3-2 success, before being sent off for removing his shirt in celebration.
Defender Giorgio Chiellini, whose appearance in Sunday’s game was his first for over a month after a calf problem, is hoping his side can overcome their opponents and set up another all-Italian clash in the final.
"We have belief, and we’ll go for it right until the very end," he told the club's official website.
"I think everyone's dream is for us to face Napoli in the final, because two Italian sides reaching that stage would be a point of pride for everyone."
Montella, meanwhile, says his side will have to up their performance levels if they are to upset Juve's momentum.
"Obviously I'd have preferred to play another team in Europe but as I said it's motivating for us," he said.
"We'll have to dig deep and perhaps even raise our game. We have to go about it with character and confidence because if we want to have higher ambitions than fourth or fifth, we must show it on the pitch."