Thursday, 24 April 2008

Fiorentina wary of Ibrox surface

Fiorentina boss Cesare Prandelli says the Ibrox playing surface could play a part in their Uefa Cup semi-final first leg against Rangers.

A new pitch was installed in January due to waterlogging but the playing surface is threadbare and rutted.

"Obviously with the condition of the pitch, we need to be extra careful," said Prandelli.

"We're talking both from an injury point of view, and because it could affect how the ball bounces."

Fiorentina rejected the opportunity to train on the Ibrox pitch as is customary on the eve of a European tie.

Rangers will be without Barry Ferguson and Kevin Thomson because of suspension while Allan McGregor and Lee McCulloch are two of several players on the injury list.

Manager Walter Smith had previously said such personnel issues are unavoidable given the number of matches his team have had to play.

Prandelli agreed a busy fixture schedule was seldom problem-free, but had little sympathy for his counterpart.

"I know they have very important players missing, but we have had the same problem throughout the season and still had the character to play all the matches," he said.

One of Prandelli's charges who Rangers will have to watch closely is Adrian Mutu.

"It's very important to win, and I feel very confident we can do so," said the Romanian striker.

And his fellow forward Christian Vieri believes Mutu is a key figure in the side.

"He's going good, he's been scoring, so hopefully he can score another couple of goals against Rangers," said the former Italian international.

It's very important we win and I'm confident we can do so
Fiorentina striker
Adrian Mutu

"We're happy to be in the semi-final so we'll just see what happens, but I think we're going to play a good game."

Meanwhile captain Dario Dainelli says the electric Ibrox atmosphere will not scare his side.

The 28-year-old defender says a hostile crowd could help inspire the Italians during their first-leg encounter.

"We must pay careful attention because it will be a difficult game given the atmosphere," said Dainelli, whose side are fourth in the Serie A table.

"But the heated atmosphere does not scare me, indeed it charges me."

Dainelli, who has been capped once by the Italian national side, will be at the heart of the defence as they aim to take a clean-sheet back to Florence for the second leg on 1 May.

The former Brescia and Lecce player has helped guide the club to the threshold of a Champions League place.

"We are getting good results, thanks to the work we are doing," he added.

"From a mental point of view there is not a great deal to say on the Glasgow game - we are already very focused.

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"We must pay careful attention because it will be a difficult game given the atmosphere.

"It is worse when the whistles come from your own crowd, because they instead charge your opponents."

Fiorentina saw off Dutch side PSV Eindhoven to secure their last four berth and Everton were defeated in the previous round.

And, like Rangers, the Italian giants have faced a hectic fixture list in recent weeks.

"We have played a lot, but this is not a problem," he claimed. "The energy to play these games is always there.

"I do not think it matters that we play away first then travel home for the second leg. We always take to the pitch with the same attitude."

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