Where: Artemio Franchi Stadium, Florence
When: Thursday October 13. Kick off at 5.45pm UK time.
TV info and box office
The match is live on BT Sport 3 in the UK. Hearts sold out their entire allocation, with over 2,000 Jambos supporting the Boys in Maroon at the 43,147 capacity Stadio Artemio Franchi.
Hearts are without the injured Craig Halkett, Kye Rowles, Beni Baningime and Liam Boyce, while Lewis Neilson is suspended after his red card last week. Right-back Michael Smith is doubtful with a hamstring problem. Fiorentina will be without Gaetano Castrovelli and Riccardo Sottil.
Both teams are in bad shape. Fiorentina crashed out of a 4-0 home loss to Lazio on Monday to remain 13th in Serie A, just four points clear of the relegation zone. Although he easily found the net at Tynecastle, Fiorentina’s woes in front of goal domestically were serious. They have only found the net four times in their last eight league games. Hearts made a hesitant start to the season, in Europe and domestically. They saved a point with a last-minute equalizer in Sunday’s 2-2 draw with Kilmarnock, which came as a big relief after Rangers’ 4-0 and 3-0 defeats to Fiorentina at Tynecastle Park. Manager Robbie Neilson has admitted his side are “not firing on all cylinders”, but he will have learned something from the bruising defeat they suffered from Fiorentina last week at Tynecastle.
Fiorentina ran out of comfortable 3-0 winners when the sides met in Edinburgh last week. A straight red shown to Hearts defender Lewis Neilson shortly after half-time didn’t help, but the visitors were already two goals clear on point and the 3-0 loss probably flattered Robbie Neilson’s side at the end. The Hearts have already played twice in Italy without scoring a goal. They lost 4-0 to Inter Milan (and 5-0 on aggregate) in the 1961/62 Fairs Cup and 3-0 to Bolgona (and 4-3 on aggregate) in the 1990/91 UEFA Cup.
Fiorentina boss Vincenzo Italiano: “Unfortunately we are paying for what is a huge evil in a football team, not being able to score goals. We take the boos and disappointment from our fans, last year we created huge excitement but now getting out in the midst of boos leaves me with enormous bitterness.
Hearts boss Robbie Neilson: “We have to try to play our defensive line a little higher. In last Thursday’s game, we talked and worked on pushing the wing-back and centre-back areas. We didn’t, which allowed them to get higher up the pitch. We have to try to put more pressure on them.
Fiorentina are the favorites with McBookie. Home win 1/9; Draw 13/2; Away win 16/1.
Fiorentina claimed Hearts failed to provide hot water for showers after last week’s game. This followed a video that emerged on social media showing the mess the visitors had left in the outside dressing room. It will be interesting to see what kind of reception the Feast of Hearts receives in Florence.