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Gilardino raises Viola expectations

Published: Tuesday 21 October 2008, 18.57CET
Alberto Gilardino's exploits since joining ACF Fiorentina suggest he could eventually replace his friend and current FC Bayern München striker Luca Toni in the hearts of the club's fans as the pair prepare to meet in Munich.
by Gavin Jackson
from Munich
Gilardino raises Viola expectations
Fiorentina striker Alberto Gilardino ©Getty Images

Tournament statistics

BayernFiorentina

Goals scored25
 
5
Attempts on target60
 
35
Attempts off target57
 
48
Corners48
 
39
Offsides34
 
18
Fouls committed159
 
110
Yellow cards17
 
13
Red cards0
 
0
 
Published: Tuesday 21 October 2008, 18.57CET

Gilardino raises Viola expectations

Alberto Gilardino's exploits since joining ACF Fiorentina suggest he could eventually replace his friend and current FC Bayern München striker Luca Toni in the hearts of the club's fans as the pair prepare to meet in Munich.

Alberto Gilardino is hopeful his fledgling partnership with Adrian Mutu will inspire ACF Fiorentina to their first victory in Group F when they face FC Bayern München on Tuesday.

Instant rapport
The Italian international striker has blossomed since moving to Florence from AC Milan last summer, his instant rapport with Mutu a major factor behind his devastating form. The 26-year-old has already scored nine times this season in all competitions, and compared the understanding he has struck up with Mutu to the fruitful duo formed by the Romanian and former Viola star and current Bayern forward, Luca Toni.

'Working well'
"Adrian did very well with Luca, and it's working well between us for the minute," said Gilardino, who brought up a century of Serie A goals when he struck twice in his club's 3-0 win against Reggina Calcio last Saturday – a match Mutu missed with a knee injury that leaves a question mark over whether he will face the German champions. "Unfortunately, we haven't been able to play together all that much. I simply hope he can be on the pitch tomorrow."

'Cause problems'
Only José Altafini has scored more Serie A goals than Gilardino before turning 27, and his exploits with his new club suggest he could eventually replace his friend Toni in the hearts of the Fiorentina faithful. "I haven't spoken to Luca, but I hope we can meet out on the pitch," said Gilardino, who may be deprived of that opportunity with his international team-mate struggling to recover from bruised ribs. "We know we're going to be up against a strong, well-prepared side, but we have to try and cause them problems from the very first minute."

Counterattacking threat
If he plays, Toni will come up against a club he knows intimately having registered 47 league goals in just 67 appearances for the Viola before joining Bayern in July 2007. "They're very fit, tactically sound, and have a high-quality squad," said the 2006 FIFA World Cup winner. "I'm sure [Cesare] Prandelli has analysed us very thoroughly. When we attack, we have to be careful not to leave any space for them to counter."

'Special game'
Toni's success in Florence endeared him to supporters and staff, even if team manager Sandro Mencucci has – jokingly – threatened to cut off the 31-year-old's ear should he mark a goal at the Fuβball Arena München with his trademark celebration. "It's a special game for me because I'm playing against a club where I felt at home," said Toni. "I have a lot of friends there, and a good relationship with everyone from the president to the kit man, but I will do everything to help Bayern win."

Last updated: 21/10/08 14.11CET

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