The players have been warming up. Of the many mysteries about football, why more teams don’t wear Fiorentina-style purple might not be the very greatest, but it remains extremely puzzling.
The teams are in, and here are those teams:
Manchester City: Roebuck, Bronze, Houghton, Dahlkemper, Greenwood, Coombs, Weir, Stanway, Kelly, Hemp, White.
Fiorentina: Schroffenegger, Cordia, Quinn, Adami, Thogersen, Vigilucci, Neto, Middag, Zanoli, Sabatino, Baldi.
Sadly, Manchester City women are not a patch on their all-conquering men’s team: if you exclude defeats after extra time and/or with the aid of penalties, they were beaten as recently as last October, just 17 games ago. Failures! Since the start of December their results at 90 minutes have been: 3-0, 2-1, 2-1, 3-0, 7-0, 2-2 (lost 4-2 aet), 7-1, 4-0, 2-1, 3-0 and 4-0, an 11-game aggregate score of 39-6. Losers! They are second in the WSL table, trailing Chelsea – the last team to beat them in 90 minutes – by two points, with a home game against the leaders to come next month.
Fiorentina meanwhile are fifth in the women’s Serie A table, and lost at local rivals and near-namesakes Florentia at the weekend, but in recent years only Juventus have outperformed them domestically. In Europe, though, they keep being tonked by English sides: 6-0 on aggregate by Arsenal in last season’s Champions League, and 7-0 by Chelsea the year before. Their coach, Antonio Cincotta, says it’s “a historic moment” for his team to reach the Champions League round of 16 for the third year in succession, but admits his team face a “massive struggle” to avoid another savaging at English hands. Do they have any hope at all? That’s what we’re about to find out!
Here’s Louise Quinn, Fiorentina’s Irish defender, on tonight’s challenge: