Coppa Italia Final: How Fiorentina Got Here

Gabriele Maltinti

With the Coppa Italia final just days away, let's look at how Napoli's opponents got this far.

The road to get to this weekend was a hard one for Napoli, but getting to a cup final for any club is a tough task. In Italy, every match before the semi-final is a straight elimination match, and when it comes to that semi-final, we all know how insane two-legged ties can be.

While Fiorentina's draws may not have had the same luster as some of Napoli's, they still managed to win at every step of the path to Rome. In the interest of knowing how our opponents for one of the biggest days every year in Italian football, let's go back over their run through the Coppa Italia.

Round of 16: Fiorentina 2-0 Chievo Verona

Like Napoli, Fiorentina got to skip all the qualification rigmarole and went straight to the round of 16, drawing Chievo Verona at home. Vincenzo Montella elected to take the chance to play some his his less-used and younger squad members, including the likes of Ante Rebic and Rafal Wolski.

Rebic netted Fiorentina's second goal of the match in first half added time, doubling la Viola's advantage after Joaquin's opener at the half hour mark. That was more than enough to put away a laughably poor Chievo side, and Fiorentina coasted through the second half with ease.

Quarterfinal: Fiorentina 2-1 AC Siena

We were treated to a Tuscan Derby for the quarterfinal, as Fiorentina were drawn with Siena, and thanks to some poor weather and The Magic Of The Cup (to borrow an English phrase), it was one to remember. Montella put out a somewhat stronger side against Fiorentina's regional rivals, but thanks to injuries was forced to start Josip Illicic up top as the lone striker in a 4-3-3.

The move worked well, though, as Illicic scored the opener with a lovely goal 20 minutes in, after being denied a penalty shout minutes before. A hilarious marking error from Marvin Compper on a set piece allowed Siena to equalize in the second half, but the German center back more than made up for it later, scoring off a corner in the 75th minute to put Fiorentina through to the semi-final.

Semifinal Leg 1: Udinese 2-1 Fiorentina

Despite their disappointing Serie A campaign, Udinese did quite well to get themselves in to the semi-final, taking down both Milan sides on their way to their tie with Fiorentina. The timing of the first leg worked out well for Udinese as well, as they were drawn at home at a time that Fiorentina were scuffling a bit for form. The hosts were able to strike first, with Antonio Di Natale striking off a counter, but Juan Vargas equalized soon after on a wonderful strike from range.

The scoreline stayed even for much of the second half, but Fiorentina never looked likely to score, seeming lifeless and uninspired out on the pitch, while Udinese were more than up for the occasion. Sure enough, the hosts got their second goal late on through Luis Muriel, and went in to the second leg with a goal advantage.

Semifinal Leg 2: Fiorentina 2-0 Udinese

Fiorentina came in to the home leg of this tie knowing that they had everything left to do, but also knowing that they had an all-important away goal to their advantage. If they could just score one early goal and hold out Udinese, that would be all they'd need to see themselves through to the Final in Rome. With Montella lining  Fiorentina up in a 4-3-3 clearly set up to sit back, absorb pressure, and hit on the counter, that was exactly what they were looking to do.

And it worked. Fiorentina leapt out on the front foot early, flying forward every time they had the ball and attacking the box with aggression. It paid off just 15 minutes in, and Manuel Pasqual was able to put his head on a deep ball in to the box from David Pizarro and past Simone Scuffet for the opener, putting Fiorentina in the driver's seat.

From there all Fiorentina had to do was hold on for dear life, and for awhile that looked like a shaky proposition. Fiorentina barely got out of the first half alive after Udinese dominated much of the run of play after the goal. Thanks to some fantastic goalkeeping from Neto (it will be criminal if he doesn't get selected to Brazil's World Cup squad, by the way), they managed to make it to the locker room with their lead intact.

The second half was an almost eerie repetition of the first. Fiorentina rushed forward from the first whistle once more, and again after 15 minutes of dominating the run of play, were able to find a goal. This time it was Juan Cuadrado playing the hero, going on a mazy run through Udinese's defense before leaving Scuffet flailing helplessly as the ball sailed by to put Fiorentina up 2-0 for the match, and 3-2 for the semi-final tie.

Udinese were again able to assert themselves and control the match afterwards, but couldn't find the breakthrough they needed and couldn't keep Fiorentina's counters from getting up the pitch and burning valuable time off the clock. Before long, the final whistle had gone, and Fiorentina fans were buying tickets to Rome.

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Getting to the Coppa Italia final is a long journey, and one Fiorentina has weathered well. They've had several moments of doubt along the way, especially after the first leg of the semi-final. We Napoli fans are certainly familiar with that, but both sides persevered and are now getting ready to face off against one another. The winner earns the rights to lift the big shiny trophy that gives them the rights to say that they and no other team were able to navigate one of the trickiest mazes around and beat all comers while they were at it. Let's just hope that it's the boys in blue doing the lifting.

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