Liverpool take on Fiorentina in their home town of Firenze (Florence) in Tuscany, Italy hoping to take a huge step closer to qualification from Group E in the Champions League.
The reds are in a rich vein of form, winning the last 6 games in all competitions. However the reds haven’t yet put in a dominating display away from home, and the first game in the Champions League group was a tiresome 1-0.
Liverpool have never faced Fiorentina in competitive football before. The two sides have met in two friendlies down the years but both ended in draws. Tonight will be Liverpool’s first trip to the Stadio Artemio Franchi.
Silver haired defender Glenn Hysen moved from Fiorentina to Liverpool for a fee of just over £500,000 in the summer of 1989 by Kenny Dalglish, although his Liverpool career was halted in its tracks after the arrival of Graeme Souness.
Fiorentina’s coach Cesare Prandelli was one of the Juventus players on the night of the 1985 European Cup Final at Heysel. At his pre match press conference he said:
“Heysel was something out of the ordinary that had nothing to do with football, nothing to do with Liverpool or with matches played.
“I don’t retain any association between Liverpool and this dramatic experience, I try to forget but you can never forget.
“I’m happy and satisfied to be here at Fiorentina and facing Liverpool, nothing more than this.”
Javier Mascherano is unwell and has stayed at home, alongside Alberto Aquilani. Daniel Agger is also at home – he will be playing a reserve fixture the night of Liverpool’s European clash.
Andrea Dossena and Yossi Benayoun have both travelled with the squad but are both suffering from minor knocks. It is doubtful either of them will be in the starting XI.
Liverpool are top of Group E (thanks to alphabetical order). Their 1-0 victory against Debrecen was matched by Lyon who beat Fiorentina. Fiorentina were actually the second seeds in the group and will be desperate to move off 0 points in the group.
Liverpool –(from) Reina, Johnson, Carragher, Skrtel, Insua, Lucas, Kuyt, Gerrard, Torres, Cavalieri, Aurelio, Dossena, Agger, Plessis, Voronin, Kyrgiakos, Babel, Riera, Spearing.
With Mascherano out and Benayoun nursing an injury there is likely to be some changes in central midfield. Jay Spearing had an average full debut against Leeds last week but we believe it is more likely that Benitez will opt to utilise Fabio Aurelio in Mascherano’s position. Failing that, Gerrard could stay as Lucas Leiva’s midfield partner and Ryan Babel may be handed a starting role. If he is given this opportunity he must build upon the weekend’s two goal haul, as time is rapidly running out for the Dutchman.
Possible starting XI – Reina, Johnson, Carragher, Skrtel, Insua, Gerrard, Lucas, Aurelio, Riera, Kuyt, Torres
Fiorentina: The hosts are without suspended top-scorer Alberto Gilardino, meaning Stevan Jovetic and Adrian Mutu could start up front together.
The Italians have a point to prove after their defeat to Lyon in the first group stage. Whether Liverpool will be overly focussed on the weekend’s game against Chelsea remains to be seen. We predict a stalemate in Italy.
Fiorentina 1-1 Liverpool