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Champions League: Back Fiorentina to foil Valencia.

GROUP B leaders Fiorentina demonstrated last week that provided you do not push too far up the pitch Valencia can be repelled with relative ease.

And they can emphasise that point by holding the Spaniards in tonight's rematch.

Fiorentina backed off once Predrag Mijatovic, formerly of Valencia, controversially won and coolly converted a penalty 20 minutes into the game.

The Italians had been in control up until that point, after which, typically for a team managed by Giovanni Trapattoni, they retreated into their half and concentrated on making life hard for Valencia.

Having been out of the game until Mijatovic's goal, Valencia then dominated possession but, apart from testing the agility of keeper Francesco Toldo a couple of times, their ball retention came to nothing.

Trapattoni, for whom tonight's tie marks his 1,000th competitive game in charge of an Italian outfit, is a wily old fox and ought to re-employ the same sit-back-and-defend tactics that earned Fiorentina a priceless victory last week.

Fiorentina have a habit of drawing Serie A games away from Florence this season.

Even when they were losing in front of their own supporters, Fiorentina were eking out points on the road thanks to their defensive organisation and work ethic.

Back them to frustrate the counter-attacking specialists at The Mestalla, even though classy cat Toldo is suspended.

Odds of 11-5 are freely available about tonight's Group B game ending all-square and, although an early goal would result in a change of tactics by both sides and weaken punters' prospects of collecting, it is a risk worth taking.

Hertha Berlin are not playing well and their bright young talent, Germany midfielder Sebastian Deisler, is banned for tonight's Group A game against Sparta Prague.

Deisler's suspension is the latest in a long line of setbacks for Hertha boss Jurgen Rober, who must be sorely tempted to hurl himself off Prague's Charles Bridge during his stay in the Czech Republic.

Berlin's Bundesliga fortunes took another turn for the worse at the weekend when they were outplayed for long spells by Munich minnows Unterhaching at the Olympic Stadium and only got out of jail in the last few minutes.

Porto against Barcelona is difficult to assess because

Rivaldo has an ankle sprain and may not start. Without concrete news on him, it is the draw which appeals.
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Title Annotation:Sports
Author:Worwood, Mark
Publication:The Racing Post (London, England)
Date:Mar 7, 2000
Words:387
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