By Iain Rogers
Fiorentina must pull off a feat that has only been achieved once before if they are to get past Sevilla into the final of the Europa League when the holders visit the Tuscan capital on Thursday (10.05pm).
Florence-based Fiorentina were thumped 3-0 by the Andalusian club in their semi-final, first leg in Seville last week and will have to match another Spanish side, Valencia, if they are to make the showpiece in Warsaw on May 27.
Valencia hammered FC Basel 5-0 after extra time in the second leg of their quarter-final last season to become the only team to overturn a 3-0 first-leg deficit in a knockout tie in Europe’s second-tier club competition.
“We know it’s a difficult task but it’s not impossible,” Fiorentina sporting director Daniele Prade said after Sunday’s 3-2 Serie A win at Empoli.
“This is a team that always manages to bounce back and always shows the necessary sacrifice,” he added.
“Our stadium has been our strength in recent years and we’ll need the fans more than ever on Thursday.”
Sevilla, meanwhile, are firmly on course to win a record fourth UEFA Cup/Europa League title, eclipsing Inter Milan, Juventus and Liverpool, who all have three.
The La Liga side won back-to-back UEFA Cups in 2006 and 2007 and beat Benfica on penalties in Turin to secure the renamed trophy last term.
Another triumph would secure them a lucrative berth in the group stage of next season’s Champions League.
Sevilla are fifth in La Liga with two games left and still have a chance of overhauling Valencia and securing fourth, which carries a place in the playoff round of Europe’s elite club competition.
“There are two ways we can get into the Champions League and we’ll just take each game at a time,” Sevilla forward Kevin Gameiro said after Sunday’s 1-1 La Liga draw at Celta Vigo.
“Anything can happen in football and we know we are going to have to suffer (on Thursday),” added the Frenchman.