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Fiorentina know they still have footballing work to do in Prague

SoccerNews in Serie A, UEFA Champions League 26 Aug 2008


Fiorentina know they still have lots to do to reach the group stage of the Champions League ahead of Wednesday's final qualifying round return at Slavia Prague even though the Italians carry a 2-0 advantage from the first leg.

After being outclassed in Florence two weeks ago, the Czech title-holders go into the game at the Eden Stadium on a high thanks to Friday's 5-0 rout of city rivals Bohemians Praha in the domestic league.

And the Serie A side will take nothing for granted against opponents who knocked Ajax out in the preliminaries last season, especially given that they may be without inspirational striker Adrian Mutu.

Mutu, who scored a superb freekick in the first leg and netted 17 goals in Serie A last season to help his side earn a Champions League qualification spot with a fourth-placed finish, injured his elbow training with the Romania national team before last week's friendly against Latvia.

The 29-year-old is recovering more quickly than expected, but he remains a major doubt.

“The tie is not over,” Fiorentina's French keeper Sébastien Frey said at a press conference.

“In their English-style stadium, it will be a battle. But we are determined. We want to go through.”

Fiorentina will be encouraged by the form of new signing Alberto Gilardino, who scored the second goal in the first-leg triumph on his competitive debut for the club and also found the net for Italy in last week's 2-2 draw with Austria in Nice.

They warmed up for the match by beating Louis van Gaal's Dutch side AZ Alkmaar 2-0 on Friday, with Giampaolo Pazzini staking a claim for a place in the starting line-up by scoring both goals.

“We were tidy and played with balance, but there's lots to work on,” coach Cesare Prandelli told the club website after the friendly.

“It was a useful international experience. Van Gaal is a maestro and we learned some things, such as the fact that opponents like these never throw the ball away.

“Now our thoughts are on the Slavia game and finding continuity.”

Italian media say Pablo Osvaldo and Mario Alberto Santana are favourites to join Gilardino in a three-pronged attack on Wednesday if Mutu is not fit, despite Pazzini's double.

Fit-again centre back Alessandro Gamberini is available after missing the first leg through injury.


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