Preview: Fiorentina vs Club Brugge – Team News, Lineups & Prediction

Fiorentina are potentially 180 minutes away from reaching back-to-back Europa Conference League finals as they welcome Club Brugge at Stadio Artemio Franchi for the first leg of their semi-final tie. Thursday is the day of reckoning in Europe’s second and third-tier competitions, with La Viola one of the three Serie A clubs vying for title-deciding events. 

Last week’s demoralizing 4-1 defeat at Atalanta condemned Fiorentina to a dismal Coppa Italia semi-final exit. Manager Vincenzo Italiano hopes his side can avoid the same fate in Europe after overseeing a scintillating 5-1 rout of Serie A underachievers Sassuolo at the weekend. He bid to inspire the club to a first major silverware since the 2000/01 Coppa Italia title.

Visiting Club Brugge will be out to deny Fiorentina a chance to make amends for last season’s final heartache after setting up their first European semi-final tie since the 1991/92 Cup Winner’s Cup. It’s been nearly five decades since Belgium’s second most-decorated club last featured in a grand UEFA final, meaning they’ll be heavily motivated.

Match Preview


Fiorentina had to navigate qualification playoffs to enter this season’s Conference League group stages. Interestingly, since a 1-0 first-leg loss to Rapid Wien in that match-up, Italiano’s men have gone undefeated in all 11 European fixtures (W6, D5), including aggregate wins against Maccabi Haifa and Viktoria Plzen in the two previous knockout rounds.

However, it’s worth noting that Fiorentina needed extra-time to break down the Czech giants, with both legs ending 0-0 in regulation time. A 2-0 home win against Plzen forms part of La Viola’s four-game unbeaten streak at Artemio Franchi (W3, D1). Defensively sound, they only conceded twice in that run.

Fiorentina got familiar with Belgian opposition in the group stages, beating Genk 2-1 at home after a goal-glutted 2-2 draw on the opening day. That victory was their first in four European clashes against such rivals (D2, L1). Qualification hopes probably rest on making it two in five on the back of three wins in their last four competitive outings (L1).

Club Brugge

Club Brugge’s renaissance following a rough start to the new calendar year has coincided with Nicky Hayen’s appointment as an interim manager in mid-March. Since a 1-1 draw at Cercle Brugge on his touchline debut, the Belgians have won seven consecutive matches in all competitions, including a thumping 3-0 triumph at Genk last weekend.

Hayen masterminded Club Brugge’s convincing quarter-final victory against Greek giants PAOK, with his side winning both legs ‘to nil’ en route to their best European result in the 21st century. The 43-year-old’s quest to land a permanent job at the Jan Breydel Stadium hinges on defying his club’s dreadful run against Italian opposition.

They’ve failed to win any of their last 11 matches against Serie A teams (D4, L7). Inspiration stems from Club Brugge’s domestic resurgence as they take this trip as the Jupiler Pro League joint-leaders. Despite returning to the title picture after two disappointing years, they’ll unlikely take their eyes off the European prize. 

Team News

Except for M’Bala Nzola, whose availability is in the balance due to a minor muscle issue, the remainder of the Fiorentina squad is fit and ready for this season-defining fixture. Andrea Belotti will take the Angola international’s place in the starting XI and spearhead Italiano’s attack.

As for Club Brugge, experienced defender Dedryck Boyata is the only high-profile absentee. Former Bologna forward Andreas Skov Olsen returns to Italy as a reformed player, though a groin injury he suffered against OH Leuven will probably force him to start on the bench. 

Fiorentina vs Club Brugge Potential Lineups

Fiorentina (4-2-3-1): Pietro Terracciano; Dodo, Nikola Milenkovic, Luca Ranieri, Cristiano Biraghi; Giacomo Bonaventura, Rolando Mandragora; Nicolas Gonzzlez, Lucas Beltran, Christian Kouame; Andrea Belotti.

Club Brugge (3-5-2): Nordin Jackers; Kyriani Sabbe, Joel Ordonez, Brandon Mechele; Meijer, Raphael Onyedika, Hugo Vetlesen, Hans Vanaken, Michal Skoras; Ferran Jutgla, Igor Thiago. 

Fiorentina vs Club Brugge Prediction

Regardless of Fiorentina’s result in this match-up, Serie A will have an additional spot in next season’s Champions League, which should relieve the pressure on Italiano’s lads. Club Brugge’s formidable form demands respect, but we back La Viola to seize the home advantage and grab a potentially tie-defining first-leg lead. 

Prediction: Fiorentina win

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