Hello everyone! We should be in for a great night of Europa League
football, as eight teams battle it out for a place in the semi-finals. Here, our coverage will be focused on the events taking place in Tuscany, as Fiorentina welcome Dynamo Kiev
to the Artemio Franchi.
Fiorentina have a slight edge going into tonight's match, following a 1-1 draw in last week's first leg. Jeremain Lens
's deflected strike had looked like giving Kiev the win, but in stoppage time Khouma Babacar
volleyed in to give the Italians a crucial away goal.
Aside from that draw in Kiev, Fiorentina have been on a pretty poor run of form and they have lost three of their last four games. The most recent of those came on Monday evening, when Mounir Obbadi
scored in the last minute to give Hellas Verona a surprise win.
Kiev had no such problems in their most recent league outing. They picked up a 3-1 win away at Volyn on Sunday that has kept them five points clear at the top of the Ukrainian Premier League with just six games left to play this season.
I think it's about time we checked out the team news and see which players will be starting when the game kicks off in just over an hour.
Neto, Rodriguez, Savic, Alonso, Tomovic, Pizarro, Fernandez, Valero, Joaquin
, Gomez, Salah
DYNAMO KIEV XI: Shovkovskiy, Silva, Antunes, Vida, Khacheridi, Rybalka, Buyalskiy, Belhanda, Lens, Yarmolenko, Teodorczyk
FIORENTINA SUBS: Tatarusanu, Basanta, Pasqual, Badelj, Vargas, Aquilani, Ilicic
DYNAMO KIEV SUBS: Rybka, Betao, Sydorchuk, Garmash, Gusev, Chumak, Kalitvintsev
So, that's how our teams will line up tonight. Fiorentina have made a host of changes from their defeat against Verona, as Mohamed Salah
, Mario Gomez
and Joaquin return to the attack. Borja Valero
, David Pizarro
and Matias Fernandez
are restored to the midfield, while Gonzalo Rodriguez
, Stefan Savic
and Marcos Alonso
are back in the defence.
Meanwhile, Kiev have made a couple of changes to the team that played in last week's first leg. Domagoj Vida
starts in defence in place of the suspended Aleksandar Dragovic
, while Younes Belhanda
is given the nod ahead of Serhiy Sydorchuk
in the midfield.
At such a vital stage in the season, it look as if Fiorentina are suffering a real dip in form. They have failed to win any of their last four games and in that time they have been dumped out of the Coppa Italia and see their hopes of getting into next season's Champions League all but ended.
Following their defeat against Verona on Monday they are now down to sixth in the league and nine points away from third-placed Roma. If they are unable to get back to winning ways in Serie A then they may not even make the Europa League next year, so success in the tournament is even more vital.
Of course they did rest a number of players for their last match, as the likes of Joaquin and Mario Gomez remained on the bench. There appeared to be no plans to play the in-form Mohamed Salah
, but he was forced into action after Khouma Babacar
picked up a knee injury just seven minutes after coming on as a substitute. It has since been confirmed that Babacar will miss the rest of the season, which is a real blow considering the impact he made last week.
If there is one man who can make a difference for Fiorentina then it is Mohamed Salah, who has been in sensational form since his loan move from Chelsea. He has scored seven goals for the club, including a wonder strike in the cup against Juventus and the second in a 2-0 win over Tottenham in the last 32 of this tournament.
Fiorentina may be struggling, but it is the complete opposite for Kiev at the moment. They are flying at the top of the Ukrainian Premier League and they are closing in on a first title in six years. Serhiy Rebrov
has really turned things around since taking charge and there is a feeling that they could achieve something special this season.
Kiev are unbeaten in eight games since their defeat away to Everton in the last 16 and they will need to keep up that run as they prepare for quite possibly the two biggest games of their season. After tonight's match, they will take on rivals Shakhtar Donetsk, in a game that could decide who wins the title. A win for Kiev would take them eight points clear of Shakhtar at the top, but a defeat would close the gap to two points and really increase the pressure on them.
If the Ukrainians are to progress, then they may have to do something that they have never done before, which is to beat Fiorentina. In their five previous meetings, Fiorentina have won twice, with the other three games ending in draws.
Kiev's only win in Italy came against Roma, although that was in controversial circumstances. In a Champions League group stage match between the teams in 2004, Kiev were leading 1–0 at half time before the match was abandoned after referee Anders Frisk was hit by an object thrown from the crowd. The Ukrainians were awarded a 3–0 win by UEFA and Roma had to play their next two European games behind closed doors.
As well as our coverage of the events taking place in Florence, we have also got live action from three other big Europa League games. Napoli head into their match with Wolfsburg with a 4-1 lead from the first leg, Sevilla are 2-1 up as they travel to Zenit St Petersburg, while it a goalless draw in the first leg between Dnipro and Club Brugge means it is finely poised as they clash in Ukraine tonight.
Here's some news that will come into effect if Kiev and Zenit win tonight. It has today been revealed that UEFA will prevent the Russian and Ukrainian clubs from meeting in the Europa League semi-finals. Clubs from the two countries have been kept apart in Europe this season due to the conflict in eastern Ukraine, so it will very interesting to see what happens when the draw for the semi-finals is made on Friday.
I'm sure that Kiev and Zenit are just thinking about making it through their quarter-finals this evening, as they are the underdogs to qualify in each tie. Should they both win tonight and then get through their semi-finals, UEFA have confirmed that a final between them would go ahead as planned. The showpiece occasion will take place in Poland's national stadium on May 27.
PREDICTION: With kick off fast approaching, it's time for a quick prediction! Fiorentina have not picked up the results they would have wanted in recent weeks, but the away goal they scored last week gives them a massive advantage tonight. I think that they are capable of producing a solid display at the back to keep Kiev out and I fancy them to grab a 2-0 win to progress to the last four.
Here's how it's looking in Florence, with four minutes left until tonight's game starts!
KICKOFF! We are underway at the Artemio Franchi!
CHANCE! The hosts have made a bright start to the game and they very nearly take an early lead. Joaquin picks up the ball on the left wing, before shifting it onto his right foot and whipping a great low cross to the back post, which is just inches away from being turned in at the back post by Gomez, who just couldn't stretch enough to make contact.
GOAL DISALLOWED! Kiev have got away with an absolute howler from their keeper. Shovkovskiy spills a long-range strike from Valero into the path of Gomez, who follows up to slot the ball into the net, but the German was standing in an offside position.
SAVE! Fiorentina are completely in charge at the moment and Salah shows his threat for the first time when he cuts inside from the right and bends in a strike looking for the far corner. However, Shovkovskiy gets down well and palms his effort to safety.
OFF THE BAR! The Viola are putting their opponents under a huge amount of pressure and they create another great opening. It's Alonso with the chance, as he collects a pass from Fernandez, before curling a superb strike against the bar.
CLOSE! I'm not exaggerating when I say that Fiorentina could be three or four goals up at this stage of the match. Kiev just can't cope with them at the moment and Valero has their latest chance with a low shot from the edge of the box that takes a deflection and heads inches wide of the post, with the keeper left rooted to his spot.
YELLOW CARD! Lens picks up a booking for the visitors after a poor lunge on Fernandez.
Alonso has been involved in a lot of his side's best moves so far and he finds space again just outside the box, before smashing an effort over the bar. It really does seem that it is only a matter of time until the Italians break the deadlock.
Kiev have not ventured outside of their own half too much, but they are just enjoying a decent spell on the ball. They have done well to weather the early storm, but there is still plenty to do if they are to keep a clean sheet tonight.
CHANCE! Fiorentina are back on the attack and Gomez collects the ball on the edge of the box, before working it onto his left foot and driving in a strike. It is well stopped by the keeper, but the German just slipped slightly as he went for the shot.
CHANCE! How many more chances are Fioretina going to get before they score this evening? It's Gomez again with the chance, as he meets a cross at the back post before heading wide from just a few yards out.
This is very similar to what happened in last week's match, as the Viola were creating plenty of chances and seeing of all the ball, before they were caught out by a deflected strike from Lens. Montella will be desperate for his team to not let that happen again, but as things stand they are in command of this tie.
SHOT! Kiev show their threat as an attacking force for the first time this evening, as Yarmolenko collects the ball on the left, before finding space to cut inside. He eventually works some room to fire in a strike, but his effort flies well wide of the post.
It has taken them quite a while, but Kiev seem to have settled into the game now and they are getting their danger man Yarmolenko on the ball. The Ukrainians know that they need to score in order to go through, but if they can keep things tight at the back until the second half, then they will fancy their chances of nicking it right at the end.
It just seems to have gone a little bit flat for Fioretina at the moment, after their wonderful start to the match. I'm sure that the players are slightly frustrated that they haven't been able to put away any of their chances, as it would have settled down this nervous crowd.
SHOT! Fiorentina have their first attempt on goal in a while after Pizarro fires a cross into the box that drops kindly to Savic, but the defender can't quite get enough power on his strike and it is comfortably held by the keeper.
RED CARD TO KIEV! This is a disaster for the visitors, as Lens picks up his second yellow card of the match and is sent off. He goes down inside the box under challenge from Rodriguez, but instead of winning a penalty, he is booked for diving. That seemed a little bit harsh for me, as there looked to be contact between the two players.
GOAL! Fiorentina 1-0 Dynamo Kiev (Mario Gomez)
Fiorentina have made their dominance count and Gomez is finally on the scoresheet! Joaquin fires a great ball into the box from the left that comes all the way through to Gomez and the German manages to sort his feet out in time to guide it into the corner.
SHOT! The hosts almost head into the break with a two-goal lead, as Tomovic is slipped in down the right by Salah and he takes a touch before drilling a low strike across goal that goes inches wide of the far post.
SUBSTITUTION: Kiev make a change just before half time, as Gusev is brought on to replace Teodorczyk.
HALF-TIME: Fiorentina 1-0 Dynamo Kiev
It's half time at the Artemio Franchi and Fiorentina are well on their way to reaching the Europa League semi-finals. They have been in complete control, but it took them until just before the break to make their advantage count thanks to Mario Gomez's goal.
© Getty Images
A quick look at the statistics prove just how good Fiorentina were in that first half. They have had 13 attempts on goal, compared to just one from Kiev, who rarely got outside of their own half. Now the visitors are down to 10 men, you would expect them to create even more chances in the next 45 minutes.
Kiev may complain about the red card which was shown to Lens, as it did seem a bit harsh. Having looked at a few replays of the incident, it still seems that there was contact between Rodriguez and Lens and I don't think that the German has dived.
Let's take a check at how the other games are going in the Europa League this evening. Sevilla appear to be heading through to the last four, as they are 1-0 up on the night against Zenit and 3-1 up on aggregate. Napoli won 4-1 in their first leg match against Wolfsburg and it is goalless this evening, while Dnipro and Club Brugge are still goalless.
Kiev take the kick off and get the match back underway!
OFF THE POST! Fiorentina are looking to stamp home their advantage now and Salah does brilliantly to get in down the right-hand side of the box, before he cuts inside and fires in a strike that hits the hand of Silva and deflects onto the post. If the referee had spotted that then Kiev could well have been down to nine men.
Fiorentina have had plenty of possession in the opening stages of this half, which is exactly what you would expect. A second goal now would put the tie to bed and they are trying their best to make that happen.
SHOT! Salah is giving the Kiev defence so many problems at the moment and he wriggles his way past Khacheridi inside the box, before setting up Valero to drill a shot wide. Moments later, Shovkovskiy smashes his goal kick against Gomez and is lucky to see the ball rebound safely over the bar.
CHANCE! Fiorentina have played some great football this evening and a flowing move almost ends in a goal. Kiev are only able to clear the ball to Fernandez just outside the box and the Chilean works some room, before firing a low strike narrowly wide of the post.
Alonso and Vida have just received some treatment from the medical staff after clashing heads while attempting to win a free kick. It seems that both players will be fine to continue though, as they are up on their feet and back out on the pitch.
SUBSTITUTION: Kiev are making a change, with Kalitvintsev coming on for Belhanda.
SHOT! Super play from Fernandez, who drives into the box and plays a low ball into the middle looking for Joaquin. The Spaniard controls the ball and turns sharply before firing in a strike that goes narrowly wide of the post.
SUBSTITUTION: Kiev make their final sub of the match, with Sydorchuk replacing Buyalskiy.
CLOSE! Valero has had quite a few efforts on goal this evening and from his latest attempt he picks the ball up just outside the box, before drilling a low shot just a few yards wide of the post.
Fiorentina are still continuing to press, but to Kiev's credit they haven't fallen apart after going down to 10 men. They haven't been able to show any attacking threat, but they are just one goal away from taking this game to extra time.
SUBSTITUTION: It's a change for Fiorentina, as Badelj comes on for Valero.
I really am surprised that Fiorentina have only managed to score one goal, after having over 20 shots. They have only been able to hit the target five times though and Alonso fails to trouble the keeper once again with an attempt that he drags wide of the far post.
SUBSTITUTION: Fiorentina make another change, with Aquilani replacing Pizarro.
CHANCE! This is a very good chance for the hosts. A corner is cleared to Rybalka just outside the box and he fires in a powerful strike that is well palmed away by Neto, before the keeper gathers the ball at the second time of asking.
CLOSE! Kiev have another very good opening, as Yarmolenko bursts into the box and drives in a cross that hits Rodriguez before going narrowly wide at the front post. Kalitvintsev then whips in a great delivery from the resulting corner that causes chaos, but somehow misses everyone in the middle.
SUBSTITUTION: Final change for the hosts, as Vargas comes on for Salah.
There are going to be four minutes of stoppage time. Will we see the same sort of late drama that occurred in Kiev last week?
Fiorentina are keeping the ball well here as they attempt to see out the final couple of minutes. If they do end up conceding, then it will be their own fault for not taking one of their many chances.
SHOT! What a big moment for Kiev. A long free kick is headed on and the ball drops to Yarmolenko inside the box. He then fires in a strike, but Savic gets down brilliantly to make the block and perhaps send his team through to the last four.
GOAL! Fiorentina 2-0 Dynamo Kiev (Juan Vargas)
It's finally over now, as Vargas scores to kill off the tie once and for all. He drives down the left and brushes off his marker, before firing in a powerful strike across the keeper and into the far corner of the net.
FULL-TIME: Fiorentina 2-0 Dynamo Kiev
The final whistle blows and Fiorentina are in the last four of the Europa League! They were made to sweat at the end before Juan Vargas
struck to kill Kiev's slim hopes. They fully deserve it for their performance this evening and will fancy their chances of going all the way.
© Getty Images
That's all we've got time for this evening. Make sure you stick with us for the reaction and the latest news from tonight's European action. Until next time, goodbye!