Fiorentina staring down the Champions League barrel as Bayern Munich roll into town

Fiorentina v Bayern Munich, Champions League last 32, second-leg, March 9, 2010

Fiorentina 2.75; Draw 3.30; Bayern Munich 2.37

They may well have been the latest Champions League victim of comedy referee Tom Henning Ovrebo and were hugely unlucky to lose 2-1 at the Allianz Arena in the first leg but Fiorentina have their work cut out to stun the Bavarian giants at the Artemio Franchi.

To put it simply, Fiorentina are in horrible form and have not looked like the side that impressed in the group stage for quite a few months whilst Bayern Munich, after a poor start, are looking like the biggest club in Germany again.

The Viola have claimed one win in their last nine Serie A matches and French keeper Sebastien Frey has not presided over a clean sheet for 17 games. (Fiorentina  are 1.01 to keep a clean sheet.) Recent home defeats to AC Milan and Juventus suggest their current position in Serie A (10th) is a fair reflection of their recent form and another season in the Champions League looks distinctly unlikely.

The recent speculation linking Fiorentina coach Cesare Prandelli with the Italy national team after Marcello Lippi departs after the World Cup has not helped matters. Whilst Adrian Mutu’s suspension after another failed drugs test means they are shorn of one of their most potent strikers, who could well make a difference in front of a capacity home crowd.

Searching for positives, it is clear from their performance in the first leg that Fiorentina have the ability to beat Bayern Munich in a one off game. The strike force of Alberto Gilardino (7.00 to score first) and Stevan Jovetic (3.00 to score) will give any defence problems and left-sided Peruvian international Juan Vargas (3.50 to score) has had a fine season and looks set for a summer move to one of the biggest clubs in Europe.

Bayern Munich in contrast are in great shape. Louis van Gaal’s position as coach looked a little precarious earlier in the season but last week the Bavarian giants took top spot in the Bundesliga and look likely title winners. Even though they drew at Cologne on Saturday, Bayer Leverkusen lost at Nurnberg on Sunday to leave Bayern sitting pretty two points clear at the top.

Another factor in their favour is that both Arjen Robben (8.00 to score first, 2.87 to score) and Franck Ribery (2.87 to score) are available and could start together. The two speedy wingers could well be a crucial factor as the German side look to break quickly and get in behind the Fiorentina defence.

Confidence should also be high following an unbeaten run of 18 matches and their return to Italy where earlier on this season they secured their place in the knockout stages with a cracking 4-1 victory at Juventus. And in addition to the “Rib-Rob” partnership, the likes of Ivica Olic and Thomas Muller (3.25 to score) could also be match winners on the break for Bayern Munich.

There are numerous reasons to feel a little sorry for Fiorentina, they were given the raw end of the deal by Ovrebo in the first leg and they peaked in the first half of the season when they topped Group H and beat Liverpool home and away. Bayern have the advantage and with veterans of European football such as Bastian Schweinsteiger and Mark van Bommel led by wily coach Louis van Gaal, this looks set to be a frustrating night for the home support.

101gg predicts: Fiorentina 1 – Bayern Munich 2 (9.00)


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