As far as form goes, the contrast between Fiorentina and Bayern Munich, who meet tonight in the second leg of their Champions League last-16 tie, could not be further apart. The sun is shining on Bayern. The Bavarians arrive in Florence defending a 2-1 lead from the first leg with the fillip of being top of the Bundesliga following Saturday's draw with Cologne. Fiorentina, however, cannot buy a win at present. Their dip in form has coincided with Adrian Mutu's ban. The Romania striker tested positive for a banned substance, Sibutramine, an appetite suppressant, in late January.
Cesare Prandelli's side have won just once in their last nine fixtures - a 2-1 home victory over lowly Livorno - and will point to several refereeing decisions going against them, not least in the first leg against Bayern where Miroslav Klose scored a last-minute winner from an offside position, as massive factors in their fortunes. Prandelli was furious again at the weekend as his side suffered another home defeat, losing 2-1 to Juventus, with Diego's winner also scored from an offside position.
Fiorentina, 10th in Serie A, could find their whole season hinges on tonight's result. "It looks like being the match of the year," said Prandelli. "I don't want the team to feel victimised. We need the strength to start all over again." Although Juan Vargas, their Peruvian winger, came off against Juve, he should be fit to take his place alongside Alberto Gilardino, who has 11 Serie A goals. Louis van Gaal, the Bayern coach, has lost defenders Martin Demichelis and Diego Contento through injury but is expected to welcome back Franck Ribery, who will play on one wing, with Arjen Robben, so inspirational in the first leg, on the other.