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Viola look to press home advantage

Published: Wednesday 26 August 2009, 8.46CET
Cesare Prandelli has urged his ACF Fiorentina players to "step up a level" and build on their 2-2 first-leg result in Lisbon when they take on visitors Sporting Clube de Portugal in their play-off decider.
Viola look to press home advantage
Sporting and Fiorentina drew 2-2 in the first leg ©Getty Images

Tournament statistics


Goals scored3
Attempts on target8
Attempts off target10
Fouls committed40
Yellow cards6
Red cards0
Published: Wednesday 26 August 2009, 8.46CET

Viola look to press home advantage

Cesare Prandelli has urged his ACF Fiorentina players to "step up a level" and build on their 2-2 first-leg result in Lisbon when they take on visitors Sporting Clube de Portugal in their play-off decider.

"The ultimate game" is how ACF Fiorentina coach Cesare Prandelli describes his side's UEFA Champions League play-off second leg against Sporting Clube de Portugal – a tie the Italian club enter as marginal favourites following their 2-2 draw in Lisbon last week.

Cesare Prandelli, Fiorentina coach
We have to focus on the match and final result only. We are aiming to step up a level from last week and to stop Sporting taking control. They are more experienced than us in Europe and will field many talented players, but reaching the group phase is vital for my team. It's the ultimate game for us. We are in good shape both physically and mentally, but at the beginning of the season it's difficult to find the intensity to face such a challenge. Anyway, the experience we gained by playing in last season's group stage will increase our confidence.

Paulo Bento, Sporting coach
Sometimes I give this example – what made me nervous about [the film] Titanic was when a lifeboat was going down with women and children and a man jumped into it. Courage is something that I don't miss at this moment. I feel better in the difficult moments. I don't know if this is the hardest moment [in four years at Sporting's helm] but for sure it's the earliest in a season I've had to face these troubles. The 2-2 score gives some advantage to Fiorentina. We’ve come to Italy to attack but we have to play with intelligence – as I saw in Lisbon, we have the quality to reach the group phase. It’s true that some of our players are missing but we can still win.

Key facts
• Fiorentina will be looking to build on their 2-2 first-leg draw, when Alberto Gilardino's 79th-minute goal swung the balance of the tie their way. Fiorentina took a sixth-minute lead through Juan Manuel Vargas before Simon Vukčević (58) and Miguel Veloso (66) responded for Sporting. Following Vukčević's dismissal, however, the Italian team drew level 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 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. Fiorentina have had mixed fortunes in two-legged ties against Portuguese opposition, recording one victory and two defeats.

• 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.

How they reached the play-offs
• Runners-up in the Portuguese Liga last term, Sporting opened their bid against FC Twente in the third qualifying round. Following a goalless first leg in Lisbon, Twente took an early lead in the Netherlands, but Sporting advanced on away goals after Peter Wisgerhof put through his own net in added time to make it 1-1.

• Fiorentina booked their place by finishing fourth in Serie A last season, above Genoa CFC courtesy of a better head-to-head record.

Team news
Out: José Ignacio Castillo (meniscus)
Doubtful: Cristiano Zanetti (ankle)
Suspended: none
Misses next match if booked: Dario Dainelli, Alessandro Gamberini, Cristiano Zanetti

Out: Felipe Caicedo (knee), Marat Izmailov (tendinitis), Hélder Postiga (thigh)
Suspended: Simon Vukčević
Misses next match if booked: Miguel Veloso

Weekend results
22/08/09 Bologna FC 1-1 Fiorentina (Serie A)
(Osvaldo 24; Mutu 65)

22/08/09 Sporting 1-2 SC Braga (Portuguese Liga)
(Djalo 71; Alan 12, Meyong 81)

Did you know?
Sporting midfielder Vukčević and Fiorentina forward Stevan Jovetić are Montenegrin international team-mates.

Last updated: 26/08/09 21.08CET

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