Italian football is reeling after three of their four UEFA Cup entrants were knocked out at the first round stage.
Fiorentina drew 2-2 on aggregate and needed penalties to beat Groningen but Palermo lost out in their shootout to little-known Czech side Mlada Boleslav after a 1-1 aggregate draw. Sampdoria were eliminated on away goals to Denmark’s Aalborg after a 2-2 aggregate draw and Empoli lost 4-2 overall to FC Zurich.
“We knew it would be a battle, all the games in Europe are now like that, hard and intense,” Fiorentina coach Cesare Prandelli told reporters.
Prandelli suggested that some of Italy’s UEFA Cup entrants had not taken the competition as seriously as they might have done.
“I know we are the only Italian team through in the UEFA Cup. I believe this is because we had more tension in respect to the others, who play too leisurely,” he added.
“I hope only that our effort tonight does not hamper us for Sunday’s battle with Juventus…a match just as important as the Groningen match.”