Fiorentina vs Gladbach – Thursday 20:05GMT/21:05CET Stadio Artemio Franchi Florence.
Borussia Mönchengladbach have it all to do in the return leg of this Round of 32 tie. Trailing 1-0 on aggregate, thanks a sublime free kick by Federico Bernardeschi, die Fohlen will have to be at their very best to overcome a strong Fiorentina side.
In a pulsating first leg at Borussia-Park it was the German side who had the majority of possession, registering 13 shots on goal compared to their Italian counterparts, who could only manage six. However, it is the Italian side who go into leg two as the favourites thanks to that all important away goal by Bernardeschi. La Viola will look to Romanian goalkeeper Ciprian Tatarusanu. Leg one saw him deal with all of Gladbach’s on target shots—another shutout will see the Italian side progress.
Dieter Hecking’s Gladbach have been in good form since he took charge in late December and his arrival has coincided with a turn in form for some of the Foals best players. Thorgan Hazard and club captain Lars Stindl will be required to lead the line again but this time a goal is vital if they are to have any chance in turning this tie around. Die Fohlen do have European experiences to look back on for inspiration, a performance similar to the 2-0 away victory registered in the UEFA Champions League, at Scottish champions Glasgow Celtic, earlier this season should provide the necessary confidence to achieve a similar score line in Florence.
Gladbach will have to overcome the form guide as the team from Borussia-Park have only won two games on Italian soil, losing three and drawing two of the seven played. Fiorentina have a similar stumbling block, having won only three of their 11 meetings with German teams. However, their European form at home to Bundesliga sides has seen them win two of their five games in Italy, only losing once.
Having won the Europa League’s predecessor twice, the UEFA Cup, this competition may provide the best route back into Europe next season for Gladbach. An overall disappointing domestic season leaves them currently 11th in the Bundesliga. Having already been knocked out of the Champions League earlier this season a trip to Stockholm in May would be a welcomed distraction for the Foals and this Gladbach side has the depth of quality to overcome a one goal slender margin.
Fiorentina vs Gladbach – Player to look out for:
Exceptionally versatile Mahmoud Dahoud can play in any of the three central midfield areas. Equally adept in the defensive centre midfield role as he is in the attacking central midfield role, Dahoud is most at home in the traditional central midfield number eight position. Revitalised under new head coach Dieter Hecking the 21-year-old midfielder has been at the fore of Gladbach’s mini resurgence. He was a key player in the recent second half comeback against Bayer Leverkusen as well as assisting team mate Raffael in the 3-0 victory against Freiburg. With an ability to pick a defence splitting pass it will be Dahoud who Gladbach will look at to unpick the Fiorentina back line.
Fiorentina vs Gladbach – Match Stats
- The clubs met for the first time in the opening leg of this tie.
- Fiorentina have won three of their 11 meetings with German teams (W3 D3 L5 – W2 D2 L1 at home).
- Gladbach’s record in 15 matches against Italian sides is W4 D7 L4 (W2 D2 L3 in Italy).
- Fiorentina hit the woodwork five times during the group stage – more than any other side.
- Gladbach (1975, 1979) are one of seven former UEFA Cup and UEFA Europa League winners in the round of 32 along with Tottenham (1972, 1984), Anderlecht (1983), Ajax (1992), Schalke (1997), Zenit (2008) and Shakhtar Donetsk (2009).
Prediction: Fiorentina vs Gladbach 1-2
Fiorentina vs Gladbach – Possible Lineups
Tatarusanu, Sánchez, Rodríguez, Astori, Badelj, Vecino, Olivera, Valero Iglesias, Cristóforoat, Kalinic
Coach: Paulo Sousa
Sommer, Jantschke, Christensen, Vestergaard, Wendt, Kramer, Dahoud, Hahn, Johnson, Stindl, Hazard
Coach: Dieter Hecking