Five reasons Fiorentina are a great bet for the Europa League
While the likes of Benfica and Juventus remain among the teams to back for outright victory in the Europa League, one dark horse has rode into contention and could be set to pip them at the post.
Available at a fine 14/1 to lift the trophy, Fiorentina hold a first-leg advantage over 3/1 cup favourites Juve having held the Old Lady to a 1-1 draw in Turin this week.
And while the Portuguese giants also impressed with a 3-1 away win over Tottenham that has seen them move to 9/2 to win the Europa League, we can think of five reasons why Fiorentina should progress and could eventually claim the cup for themselves.
Fiorentina ended their Juventus Stadium hoodoo
La Viola have endured something of a nightmare since the reigning Serie A champions moved into their shiny new Juventus Stadium back at the start of the 2011-12 season.
In each of the three previous meetings between the teams at the ground, Juve won 1-0, 2-0 and 2-1 but that run ended on Thursday with that priceless 1-1 stalemate – anything is possible now.
Fond memories of their last meeting with the Old Lady in Florence
In arguably the best game of the season so far, Juventus and Fiorentina met at the Stadio Artemio Franchi in a top of the table clash that did not disappoint.
With the Old Lady leading 2-0 at half-time, the hosts came storming back in the second period with four unanswered goals. A repeat of that famous 4-2 victory would suit Vincenzo Montella’s men just fine in the return leg.
La Viola are cup competition specialists
A third place finish may be beyond Fiorentina, with Napoli some 10 points ahead of them in the final Champions League spot, but their attacking brand of football has bore fruit in the cup competitions.
Unbeaten throughout the Europa League group stage and knockout phase so far, with six wins and three draws, La Viola are also vying for glory in the Coppa Italia, having already reached the final and will be desperate to complete a special double.
The attacking football played under Vincenzo Montella
The man nicknamed ‘the little aeroplane’ during his playing days has got Fiorentina well and truly flying in front of goal this season, with the attractive, attacking brand of football played under Vincenzo Montella prompting some suggestion that he could ultimately take the reins at Barcelona.
A tally of 14 goals in nine Europa League games is impressive enough, with La Viola failing to find the net just once – in a dead rubber group match with Pacos de Ferreira. A further 45 goals in 27 Serie A games also suggests they have the attacking prowess to progress far in this competition.
The big names are coming back to Stadio Artemio Franchi
After a frustrating season spent mostly on the sidelines, big summer signing Mario Gomez made his return to first team action in the best possible way against Juventus, finding the net to give the Florence club the first leg advantage.
Off the mark and eager to impress, Gomez is a great addition to the Fiorentina attacking line and could eventually be rejoined by club top scorer Giuseppe Rossi before the business end of the competition kicks in.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.
Fancy a flutter? Sign up today to claim up to £50 in free bets