Italian duo Fiorentina and Inter Milan should prioritise Europa League progression over their current battles within Serie A.
The pair both progressed to the last 16 of the tournament after beating British sides Tottenham Hotspur and Celtic on Thursday evening, with Fiorentina now facing an enticing tie against domestic rivals AS Roma.
Yet with Juventus, Roma and Napoli expected to finish in the podium positions, both Fiorentina and Inter should now bid to qualify for the Champions League by lifting the trophy in Warsaw at the end of the season in May.
Serie A may be lacking in excitement when it comes to the title race, but which sides join Juventus in next year’s competition is yet to be decided.
Roma started the season in fine fettle, but after a harsh winter have trailed off and are sorely in need of victories to regain some momentum ahead of the season’s crunch months.
Contrastingly Napoli struggled for form during the early embers of the current campaign, but have since transformed their fortunes in what could be Rafael Benitez’s final year at the Stadio San Paulo.
Fiorentina are still in with a shout of automatic qualification, but with Lazio and Sampdoria better-placed may have to qualify via triumph in Europe’s second-tier competition.
The same can also be said for Inter Milan, who are now soaring under Roberto Mancini with their victory over Celtic a huge boost for all in and around the San Siro.
Italy may be languishing behind the Premier League and La Liga when it comes to the Champions League, but lead the way when it comes to teams from their country plying their trade in the Europa League.
Roma, Napoli, Inter and Fiorentina are now flying the flag high, but the latter duo should take the competition more seriously given their current league woes.
Inter have been handed a tricky tie against Bundesliga side Wolfsburg, who with Kevin De Bruyne, Andre Schurrle and goal machine Bas Dost in their ranks could pose a stern test.
Roberto Mancini has always found European football an Achilles heel however, and after failing to ever guide Manchester City close to a trophy outside of England will need to silence his doubters with two strong performances when the sides meet next month.
Fiorentina were superior against Tottenham but in facing Roma must take full advantage of Rudi Garcia’s men’s recent malaise to progress at their fellow Serie A side’s expense.
Failure to do so could plunge Vincenzo Montella’s future into uncertainty and could be a decision that haunts the club for the foreseeable future.
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