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ACF Fiorentina welcome play-off rivals Sporting Clube de Portugal to the Artemio Franchi Stadium looking to build on their 2-2 first-leg draw in Lisbon.
• Alberto Gilardino's 79th-minute equaliser in the Portuguese capital swung the balance of the tie Fiorentina's way and they will be confident of finishing the job against visitors who have never won on Italian soil in eleven previous attempts.
• The first leg brought plenty of drama with Fiorentina taking a sixth-minute lead through Juan Manuel Vargas, Simon Vukčević (58) and Miguel Veloso (66) responding for Sporting but – with Vukčević sent off – the Italian team drawing level against the ten men through Gilardino.
• Sporting will be hoping to make it third time lucky after losing to Italian sides in UEFA Champions League qualifiers twice previously – going out to FC Internazionale Milano in 2002/03 and Udinese Calcio in 2005/06, on both occasions in the third qualifying round.
• Sporting fans will find no happy omens in their club's historical record against Italian sides.
• The Portuguese outfit have won two and lost seven of their previous nine two-legged contests against opposition from Serie A. Moreover, their eleven previous visits to Italy have yielded two draws and nine defeats.
• Sporting went down 2-1 at AS Roma on their most recent trip in the UEFA Champions League group stage in October 2007; Liedson's goal sandwiched by efforts from Juan and Mirko Vučinić.
• Fiorentina have had mixed fortunes in two-legged ties against Portuguese opposition, recording one victory and two defeats.
• They lost to Vitória FC in the UEFA Cup second round in 1972/73 after failing to overturn a 1-0 first-leg reverse in a 2-2 home draw.
• The Viola later lost to Boavista FC in the first round of the same competition in 1986/87, going out on penalties after trading 1-0 home wins.
• When they did get the better of a Portuguese opponent, SL Benfica, in the 1996/97 UEFA Cup Winners' Cup quarter-finals, they still did not have it easy, losing 1-0 at home after a 2-0 away success.
• Fiorentina have twice appeared in the UEFA Champions League group stage, earning their place through qualifying on both occasions. They overcame SK Slavia Praha last season and RTS Widzew Łódź in 1999/2000.
• Sporting are bidding for a fourth consecutive appearance in the group stage – and fifth overall. Their only previous victory in the qualifying phase came against Beitar Jerusalem FC in 1997/98.
• Paulo Bento's team opened their bid for a group-stage berth against FC Twente in the third qualifying round. Following a scoreless first leg in Lisbon, they squeezed through on away goals after Peter Wisgerhof put through his own net in injury time to give them a 1-1 draw in the Netherlands.
• Sporting coach Bento played all 90 minutes and Viola striker Adrian Mutu was an unused substitute when Portugal downed Romania 1-0 at UEFA EURO 2000™.
• As a player with Benfica, Bento suffered UEFA Champions League elimination at the hands of AC Milan in the 1994/95 quarter-finals. His team lost the first leg 2-0 in Milan – exiting by the same score on aggregate.
• Sporting midfielder Simon Vukčević and Fiorentina forward Stevan Jovetić are Montenegrin international team-mates.
• Lions defender Leandro Grimi and Viola forward Alberto Gilardino were briefly colleagues at AC Milan in 2006/07, while Felipe Caicedo (Sporting) and Zdravko Kuzmanović (Fiorentina) served together at FC Basel 1893 in the same season.
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