Blog Written by Joshua O'Byrne (@JobJobBinks):
With another Serie A season coming to a close, Fiorentina yet again find themselves missing out on Champions League football. Despite a great start to the season, the Viola have once again failed to qualify for the Champions League. After setting high expectations and playing an attractive style of football, it hasn't been enough to gain qualification for the UCL and yet again Fiorentina will be in the Europa League. However the current squad is decent and with some sensible signings, Champions League qualification could be a real possibility next season for the Viola. Keeping Paulo Sousa will be vital for next season if they are to qualify for the Champions League. So the questions on Fiorentina fans lips are why have their team failed to qualify for Champions League once again? And can they build on this season and qualify for Europe's elite competition next season?
So in what must be beginning to feel like Groundhog Day for La Viola's faithful, Fiorentina find themselves going into the last game of the season with a Europa League place secure. For the past three years now Fiorentina have set their sights on Champions League qualification but it still remains out of their reach. Fiorentina made a fantastic start to this season and even had some fans dreaming of winning the title. As usual, however, in January the wheels began to come off. Fiorentina for the past four years have played very attractive football in Serie A but they always seem to fall short of those precious Champions League places. Under Vincenzo Montella, Fiorentina finished in fourth place for three consecutive years. This year under Paolo Sousa, Fiorentina will finish in fifth place with the same reasons preventing them from qualifying for the Champions League.
Fiorentina's lack of strength in depth at the back and the need for a real goal scorer upfront consistently hamper La Viola in their pursuit of Champions League football. These problems have shown up yet again this season. Whenever Gonzalo Rodriguez is absent from the Viola's defense they seem to fall apart. Fiorentina do not have enough quality defenders to make a real push for Champions League football. While captain Rodriguez is excellent, players such as Roncaglia, Tomovic and Astori are good players to have in the squad but more quality is needed. Fiorentina need to sign two or three quality defenders to make a real push into the top three.
Going forward is also a problem as Nikola Kalinic started like a house on fire this season but the goals have dried up. Yet again for a team pushing for Champions League qualification, Kalinic would be a good squad player but a top-level goal scorer is needed for the Viola. They must sign a quality centre forward; Mario Gomez and Giuseppe Rossi were both promising signings but neither performed consistently and Kalinic on his own won't be enough to make the Champions League.
However, despite these problems Fiorentina have solid foundations to build on. They have an excellent manager in Paolo Sousa, who recently announced he would be staying with the Viola after much speculation. Sousa will be looking for the board to address the aforementioned problems and reinforce the defense and striking departments. The makings of a great team is there however with Rodriguez, Borja Valero, Ilicic and Bernardeschi making up the core of the side. With some sensible signings Fiorentina can make a real push for Champions League football next season and finally qualify for Europe's elite competition. Given Fiorentina's attractive playing style it would be fitting that they finish in third next year after so many years of narrowly missing out.
Fiorentina's fans will certainly be hoping that they can finally qualify for the Champions League next year and end their long wait to return to Europe's elite competition.