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Fiorentina hope to revive ‘spirit’ that conquered Anfield

IT HAS been a difficult few months for Fiorentina, to say the least. The Italians, who beat Liverpool twice in the group stages of the Champions League before Christmas, have lost five of their last six games in domestic football while their striker Adrian Mutu has been banned for failing a doping test last month.

Tonight presents an opportunity to turn things around as they travel to Bayern Munich in the last 16 of the Champions League. The Viola are keen to impress. “We want to play a great game,” said goalkeeper Sebastien Frey. “We want to leave a mark in Europe. In order to do that, we need to recover the character that we showed in the competition. I think if we find the spirit that we showed in our two games against Liverpool, we can do well.”

Last weekend’s 2-0 loss at Sampdoria dropped them to 11th in Serie A, seven points behind Juventus in the last European qualifying spot. “It’s a delicate time for us,” said Frey. “We have struggled and been unlucky. But for this type of game, you don’t need any extra motivation. To reach the Champions League last 16 is a bonus, a unique experience for many of my team-mates.”

They will be without defender Alessandro Gamberini, who underwent shoulder surgery this week and will be sidelined for three months. Midfielder Mauro Santana is out for three weeks with a muscular injury.

If Arjen Robben gets his way, Fiorentina’s miserable run will continue. He is dreaming of a 6-0 Champions League thrashing tonight. In contrast to their rivals, the Bundesliga side go into the first leg at the Allianz Arena on the back of a 12-match winning streak.

“The ideal result is 6-0, but that will probably not happen,” Robben said. “But it is clear we have to score and be careful that Fiorentina don’t. If we win the first game, Fiorentina have to go for it in the second game.”

Franck Ribéry started just his third Bundesliga game of the campaign in the 3-1 win over Borussia Dortmund on Saturday. Robben is glad to have the France winger back. “It is a lot of fun to play alongside Franck,” he said. “Not only for me, also for all the players. He gives the team something special.”

Defender Philipp Lahm believes the team need to improve at the back. “We’re not tight enough. We’ll be punished for that in the Champions League,” Lahm warned.

Bayern Munich v Fiorentina Live, Sky Sports 2, Setanta Ire, 7.45

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