Fiorentina out for revenge
Fiorentina may be on the brink of UEFA Champions League elimination, but they will feel that they have a score to settle with Lyon at the Stadio Artemio Franchi on Tuesday. Two months ago when the teams met in France, a brace from Alberto Gilardino looked set to fire Fiorentina to an impressive opening victory in their first Champions League appearance for eight years.
But in the final 18 minutes, Lyon scored twice with Fiorentina complaining that one of the goals should have been disallowed. It still seemed to be a good result for the Italians, but since then they have picked up two more draws and a defeat, while the French champions won twice and drew one.
It has left Fiorentina five points behind both Lyon and Bayern Munich and knowing that qualification for the second round is highly unlikely. It is a tough ask, but Fiorentina couldn't be in better shape as all their main players are fit.
Gilardino and strike partner Adrian Mutu both scored in Saturday's 4-2 home win over Udinese, while midfielder Riccardo Montolivo was impressive in bagging the other two goals. Even so, Mutu admitted his team are just happy to have been invited to the party this year.
"We're living the Champions League dream and it's like a toy is to a baby, we're delighted to be here," he said. "If we get through to the next round, good, if we're knocked out, well no-one could say we failed."
French goalkeeper Sebastien Frey, who is from the same Rhone-Alpes region in which Lyon is situated, was also in top form on Saturday, making several important saves while Fiorentina were trailing 1-0.
Fiorentina's home form has been particularly strong this season, winning five and drawing two - against Inter Milan and Juventus - of their Serie A matches at the Artemio Franchi.
Things do not look so bright for French leaders Lyon, though, following their 1-0 defeat at Paris St Germain on Saturday, during which they also lost defender Anthony Reveillere to knee ligament damage. That was a particularly bitter pill for Lyon boss Claude Puel to swallow as he already faces a defensive crisis with Mathieu Bodmer, Franois Clerc and Italy full-back Fabio Grosso all out injured as well. However, they only need a single point on Tuesday to ensure progress to the knock-out phase for the sixth year in a row.