Why might Fiorentina be the dark horse of the Europa League and Serie A this upcoming season? The answer is simple. They've got a great squad already reinforced with Mario Gomez and Giuseppe Rossi, and a great manager in Vincenzo Montella.
Although Fiorentina controversially missed out on a spot in the Champions League to Milan on the last day of the past season, the Viola have not lost any momentum since.
2012/13 was truly a year of revival for the club, thanks to some savvy work on the market. Sporting Director Daniele Prade's new signings Luca Toni, Alberto Aquilani, Borja Valero and Juan Cuadrado all made an immediate impact on the pitch. Together they contributed 21 goals and 26 assists.
But the greatest praise must go to Montella, who found the right formula for an extremely talented squad, even bringing the testy Adem Ljajic and often-injured Stevan Jovetic to their full potential. Without a doubt, under Montella, Fiorentina played some of the most spectacular football in Italy, and were ultimately rewarded for their efforts with a place in the Europa League.
In an example Montella's attack-minded tactics, take a look at all of Fiorentina's goals last season in the video to the right.
It's not an easy task to build on the 21 wins and 72 goals scored last season, but Fiorentina are already well under way in the creation of a squad worthy of again challenging for a Champions League spot. But, beyond this, there is no reason why we shouldn't see Fiorentina going deep in the Europa League.
Daniele Prade has again been hard at work. This time around, he pulled off the impressive transfer of former Bayern Munich striker Mario Gomez, as Football Italia reports.
Mario Gomez's move to Fiorentina has been announced on Bayern Munich's official website http://t.co/NMaGy08t6g— footballitalia (@footballitalia) July 8, 2013
Initially, Prade stated that Gomez would be too expensive for the club, as Goal.com reports. However, he now seems content despite knowing that it will take the club four years to pay the fee of about €15.5 million, as News.am reports.
As Jonathan Wilson of The Guardian notes, Fiorentina saw something in the striker that the rest of Europe seems to have ignored, and this will no doubt pay dividends for the Viola.
Last season at Bayern was his "least successful," yet he still managed 10 great goals out of 19 total in addition to winning the treble.
Plus, don't forget that Gomez is still in his prime, having just turned 28. It's definitely an investment that can pay off over the next five years or so if all goes according to plan.
The recent success of German strikers in Italy is not unfounded, and Prade has done well to drop the cash on Gomez. A certain Miroslav Klose comes immediately to mind, who after being discarded by Bayern, has since become an icon for Lazio, scoring 28 goals for the club, including key winners against rivals Roma.
Fiorentina supporters hope Gomez can replicate the success of Klose, and some might think the pressure is on the German international. But, like Klose, Gomez is a player who has won, or come close to winning, all of the biggest tournaments in the world, scoring in all major arenas. Pressure should not be an issue.
The same can be said about Gomez's future strike partner Giuseppe Rossi. Fiorentina did not hesitate to snatch up the highly experienced Italian international in January, despite him being sidelined for over a year due to injury after his successful spell at Villarreal.
For those of you not too familiar with the Italian-America, take a look at some of his highlights in the video to the right.
Before injury, he scored 54 goals for the Yellow Submarines in 135 appearances and was a key member of Cesare Prandelli's Italy squad during Euro 2012 qualifications, contributing six goals for the senior national team.
Coming back from his two serious injuries can obviously pose a problem. However, along with the medical staff at his disposal, he will have the encouragement of Borja Valero, a key teammate of his at Villarreal.
Knowing Montella, the manager will find no trouble in developing the chemistry between an already seemingly perfect partnership between the powerful, complete Gomez and the diminutive, pacey Rossi.
Rossi has already expressed his happiness at the signing of Gomez, in a statement given to La Repubblica, as Football Italia reports.
Stevan Jovetic and Adem Ljajic may very well leave the Viola, which seems all the more likely in recent days, as Football Italia reports.
Stevan Jovetic looks to be edging closer to a move to Man City, if claims in the British Press are to be believed http://t.co/S5eQxkozlD— footballitalia (@footballitalia) July 11, 2013
However, Fiorentina have already prepared for their absence in the best possible way, and might very well have found an even stronger partnership up front.
This is all building on the already strong base created by Montella, and the 3-5-2 that he looks likely to employ in the upcoming seasons is, on paper, even more devastating than last year's formation.
Even if David Pizarro were to return to Manchester City, the Fiorentina midfield is still packed with experience and creativity, centered around Aquilani and Borja Valero and backed by the hard-tackling, ex-Milan stalwart Massimo Ambrosini.
The wings are supported by pace and flair with the likes of Juan Cuadrado and new signing Joaquin. At the back, Gonzalo Rodriguez has already demonstrated his qualities, and will be mustering a tough-to-breakdown defense with Stefan Savic and Facundo Roncaglia.
The upcoming Serie A season may very well be one of big surprises, thanks to a recent revival in the central Italian teams. Roma look primed to bounce back after losing the Coppa Italia to rivals Lazio. Lazio, meanwhile, will be looking to improve their already successful performance last season.
But, it's Fiorentina who seems the most likely to stir things up.
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