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Europa Conference League | Quarter-Finals | 2nd Leg
Apr 18, 2024 at 5.45pm UK
Stadio Artemio Franchi

Fiorentina
2 - 0
Plzen

Gonzalez (92'), Biraghi (108')
Ranieri (36'), Gonzalez (94')
FT
(aet)

Chory (37'), Reznik (74')
Cadu (67')

Preview: Fiorentina vs. Viktoria Plzen - prediction, team news, lineups

Sports Mole previews Thursday's Europa Conference League clash between Fiorentina and Viktoria Plzen, including predictions, team news and possible lineups.

Fiorentina hope to put their recent wobble behind them in Thursday's Europa Conference League quarter-final second-leg clash with Viktoria Plzen at the Stadio Artemio Franchi.

Vincenzo Italiano's men have laboured in front of goal recently, putting them in a challenging position of breaking down a Viktoria side that have outdone every club's tally of clean sheets in the competition, keeping their 12th shutout in 15 games in last week's scoreless first leg.


Match preview

Fiorentina coach Vincenzo Italiano reacts on March 10, 2024© Reuters

The Viola may desire to return to the Conference League final this season, intending to right the wrongs of the previous campaign, but they must find their scoring boots again after recent struggles in the attacking third.

Despite being one of the competition's top scorers leading up to the first leg, the Italian side fired blanks last time out for the first time since a 1-0 loss to Rapid Vienna in the playoff round.

That loss in August was not fatal as Italiano's men responded with a 2-0 win in Florence, and a similar outcome on Thursday seals progress into the tournament's semis.

However, failure to score more than one goal in a month of football across all competitions — since a 2-2 draw with Roma on March 10 — could be detrimental to the Serie A side.

Six matches have followed since that league draw with the Giallorossi, with one goal scored against Maccabi Haifa (1-1), AC Milan (2-1 loss) and Genoa (1-1) on Monday, while they have fired blanks in defeat by Juventus (1-0) and last Thursday. Fiorentina's only triumph was a Coppa Italia semi-final first-leg 1-0 win against Atalanta on April 3, underscoring recent issues.

Viktoria Plzen's Tomas Chory celebrates scoring their first goal with teammates on November 1, 2022© Reuters

Plzen seek to end the Viola's dream of making this season's final, with Miroslav Koubek's men keen to make the most of their defensive astuteness which bodes well in knockout football.

The Czech side seldom give little away, underscored by Koubek's troops conceding the first goal only once from the qualifying rounds through the competition proper — in their comeback 2-1 success against Astana in October — underlining the team's stinginess.

That much was evident in the reverse fixture last week, in which the Italian side had 73% possession, but quality goalscoring chances were at a premium. Viktoria limited Fiorentina to 10 shots in 90 minutes, all adding up to expected goals (xG) of 0.38.

Thursday's match-up could follow the same pattern, with Koubek predicting either side to win by the lone goal in Florence.

Such an outcome means Viktoria must not concede early against Fiorentina as an early concession leaves them at risk of being picked apart by a currently goal-shy home side.

Fiorentina Europa Conference League form:


Fiorentina form (all competitions):


Viktoria Plzen Europa Conference League form:


Viktoria Plzen form (all competitions):
  • W
  • L
  • W
  • D
  • D
  • W



Team News

Fiorentina's Luca Ranieri celebrates scoring their first goal with teammates on March 10, 2024© Reuters

Dodo replaced Michael Kayode for last week's clash, and the right-back could be reinstated for the reverse fixture, having sat out Monday's draw with Genoa.

Despite his team's dominance, Lucas Martinez Quarta's near-perfect defensive display and adventurous passing means the centre-back starts on Thursday along with Nikola Milenkovic.

Cristiano Biraghi was an unused substitute against Genoa, but the left-back should return to the side in place of Fabiano Pirola.

Pavel Sulc netted Viktoria's only goal in Sunday's 1-0 win over Slavia Prague, and the midfield man should start in Florence. However, the away side's top scorer is Tomas Chory, who seeks his fourth of this season's Conference League.

Koubek is expected to be without Jan Sykora, Matej Valenta and Rafiu Durosinmi because of knee injuries, while Jhon Mosquera (head) and Erik Jirka (groin) are both ruled out.


Fiorentina possible starting lineup:
Terracciano; Dodo, Milenkovic, Quarta, Biraghi; Arthur, Bonaventura; Gonzalez, Beltran, Sottil; Belotti

Viktoria Plzen possible starting lineup:
Jedlicka; Reznik, Hranac, Hejda, Jamelka, Cadu; Cerv, Kalvach, Sulc; Chory, Vydra


SM words green background

We say: Fiorentina 1-0 Viktoria Plzen (Fiorentina win 1-0 on aggregate)

Thursday's game is expected to be as tight as the reverse fixture at Doosan Arena, with Viktoria keen to limit Fiorentina to few clear-cut opportunities. However, the home side's quality and Conference League scoring run in Florence (no side in the competition has ever prevented them from scoring on their turf) should see Italiano's side nick the odd goal required to progress to the tournament's semis.


For data analysis of the most likely results, scorelines and more for this match please click here.


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Data Failed

How you voted: Fiorentina vs Plzen

Fiorentina
87.1%
Viktoria Plzen
12.9%
85
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Former Fiorentina director Joe Barone pictured in October 2022
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TeamPWDLPTS
QLille642014
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3Ljubljana62046
4KI61144

Group B

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QM. Tel Aviv650115
QGent641113
3Luhansk62137
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Group C

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QDinamo Zagreb63039
3Astana61144
4KF Ballkani61144

Group D

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QBrugge651016
QBodo/Glimt631210
3Besiktas61144
4Lugano61144

Group E

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QAston Villa641113
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3AZ62046
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Group F

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QFiorentina633012
QFerencvaros624010
3Genk62319
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Group G

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QFrankfurt63039
3Aberdeen61326
4HJK Helsinki60242

Group H

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3Nordsjaelland631210
4Spartak Trnava60151


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