Artemio Franchi, Florence
Thursday 19 February 2009 – 20.45CET (20.45 local time)
Matchday 6 – Round of 32, first leg
AFC Ajax coach and former AC Milan striker Marco van Basten will be aiming to end the club’s poor recent form on Italian soil when the Amsterdam outfit visit ACF Fiorentina in the UEFA Cup Round of 32.
- Ajax head coach Van Basten and his assistant John van’t Schip are certainly au fait with the Italian game, having graced Serie A with 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 played four games against Dutch sides to date and are yet to taste defeat. All four encounters have come under the stewardship of current coach Cesare Prandelli, with the Viola recording W1 D3 L0.
- 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.
- Ajax have played 35 matches against Italian sides, including seven European finals – five of which they won. Their overall record over those fixtures reads W10 D10 L15.
- They have 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’s away record against Serie A clubs reads W2 D3 L10, and they have failed to win in eight trips to Italy since a 2-0 UEFA Champions League group-stage success over AC Milan on 23 November 1994 in the Nereo Rocco Stadium in Trieste. Seven of those eight visits ended in defeat.
- Fiorentina’s 19-year-old Montenegrin striker Stevan Joveti? and Ajax’s 20-year-old Serbian attacker Miralem Sulejmani both made their league debuts with Belgrade outfit FK Partizan in the 2005/06 season.
- 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.
- Fiorentina have recorded W1 D4 L1 from their last six European games at home.
- Ajax have won three of their last four European away games.
- 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 berth instead, Ajax claimed second spot in Group F of the competition.
- Fiorentina’s Alberto Gilardino and Luciano Zauri will be suspended for one match if they receive another booking. Ajax have no similar problems.
- January squad changes:- Fiorentina Players added to squad list: Gianluca Comotto, Manuel Pasqual, Franco Semioli. Players removed from squad list:Giampaolo Pazzini, Pablo Daniel Osvaldo, Zdravko Kuzmanovi?.
- January squad changes:- Ajax Players added to squad list: Marco Bizot, Marvin Zeegelaar. Players removed from squad list: Hans Vonk, Laurent Delorge, Dennis Rommedahl, Klaas Jan Huntelaar.
- 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.