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Ajax and Fiorentina meet in Amsterdam

Published: Friday 23 January 2009, 21.45CET
A Round of 16 meeting with Olympique de Marseille or FC Twente is the prize on offer for AFC Ajax and ACF Fiorentina as their UEFA Cup tie concludes in Amsterdam.
Ajax and Fiorentina meet in Amsterdam
Ajax striker Dario Cvitanich ©Getty Images

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Published: Friday 23 January 2009, 21.45CET

Ajax and Fiorentina meet in Amsterdam

A Round of 16 meeting with Olympique de Marseille or FC Twente is the prize on offer for AFC Ajax and ACF Fiorentina as their UEFA Cup tie concludes in Amsterdam.

AFC Ajax welcome ACF Fiorentina to Amsterdam for the second leg of their UEFA Cup Round of 32 tie, having picked up a valuable 1-0 away win in Florence.

• Kennedy Bakircioglü scored the only goal of the game for the visitors, despite Fiorentina creating the lion's share of opportunities. "In sport it's all about winning, not how you win," was the verdict of Ajax coach Marco van Basten.

• Van Basten and his assistant John van't Schip are certainly au fait with the Italian game, having graced Serie A with AC Milan and Genoa CFC respectively during their playing days.

• Former Oranje boss Van Basten will also have fond memories of masterminding the Netherlands' 3-0 victory over Italy at UEFA EURO 2008™. No Ajax or Fiorentina players were involved in that encounter in Berne.

• In four friendly internationals against Italy as a player, Van Basten's Netherlands picked up just one draw and three defeats. Both games on Italian soil ended 1-0 to the Azzurri.

• Fiorentina have now played five matches against Dutch sides. All five encounters came under the stewardship of current coach Cesare Prandelli, with the Viola recording W1 D3 L1.

• Prandelli's charges beat FC Groningen on penalties after two 1-1 draws in the first round of the 2007/08 UEFA Cup. They subsequently knocked PSV Eindhoven out at the quarter-final stage of the same competition after following up a 1-1 home draw with a 2-0 victory in the PSV Stadion.

• Current Ajax players Bruno Silva and Rasmus Lindgren were both in the Groningen side which lost that first-round fixture. Silva scored his shoot-out effort but could not prevent his team going down 4-3 on spot-kicks, with the clincher coming from the boot of Romanian forward Adrian Mutu.

• Fiorentina have never lost in the Netherlands. Their previous two visits ended in a win and a draw.

• Ajax have now played 36 matches against Italian sides, including seven European finals - five of which they won. Their overall record over those fixtures reads W11 D10 L15.

• Ahead of the first leg, they had gone nine games without a win against Italian opposition since a 2-1 home victory over AS Roma on 10 December 2002 in the 2002/03 UEFA Champions League second group stage.

• Ajax have failed to win in their last four home games against Italian sides, picking up two draws and two 1-0 defeats.

• Fiorentina's 19-year-old Montenegrin striker Stevan Jovetić and Ajax's Serbian attacker Miralem Sulejmani, 20, both made their league debuts with Belgrade outfit FK Partizan in the 2005/06 season.

• Ajax are unbeaten in their last three European matches at home.

• The 3-0 reverse against FC Bayern München in Group F of this season's UEFA Champions League is Fiorentina's only defeat on their last six European away days.

• Ajax have won just one of five penalty shoot-outs in UEFA club competition to date. Their solitary success came in the final of the 1995 European/South American Cup, when they beat Grêmio Foot-Ball Porto Alegrense 4-3 on spot-kicks after a 0-0 draw in Tokyo. They are yet to be involved in a shoot-out in Amsterdam, but have lost all four that have taken place on European soil.

• Fiorentina have also been involved in five UEFA club competition penalty shoot-outs, three of which came in last season's UEFA Cup. They knocked out FC Groningen 4-3 on spot-kicks in the first round, beat Everton FC 4-2 on penalties in the Round of 16 and lost their semi-final shoot-out 4-2 against Rangers FC.

• Overall the Viola have won three shoot-outs and lost two in UEFA competition, winning one and losing one of the two to have taken place away from home.

• Fiorentina, who came fourth in Serie A in 2007/08, earned their UEFA Cup Round of 32 berth by virtue of a third-place finish in UEFA Champions League Group F. Ajax finished second in the Dutch top flight last season but missed out on clinching a UEFA Champions League place in the Eredivisie's end-of-season play-offs. Having taken a UEFA Cup spot instead, Ajax came second in Group F of the competition.

• Alberto Gilardino's four goals made him Fiorentina's leading marksman in this season's UEFA Champions League group stage. Mutu was the club's only other scorer.

• Uruguayan forward Luis Suárez is Ajax's leading UEFA Cup scorer with four goals in the competition so far. The only other Ajax player to find the net more than once was two-goal Klaas Jan Huntelaar, who has since moved to Real Madrid CF.

• Ajax's Suárez and Thomas Vermaelen are within a booking of one-match bans, as are Fiorentina's Luciano Zauri and Gilardino.

• The winners of this tie will meet Olympique de Marseille or FC Twente in the Round of 16 on 12 and 18/19 March, and will play the second leg at home.

• Therefore, there is the possibility of an all-Dutch affair in the next round if both Ajax and Twente come through their ties.

Last updated: 23/02/09 17.00CET