Widely known as the “Viola” because of the distinctive purple colour of their strip, Fiorentina have long been a notable force in Italian football, and only four other sides have played more seasons in Serie A.
The club was founded in 1926 by local nobleman Luigi Ridolfi, who orchestrated a merger between two more minor Florence-based clubs to try and create a powerhouse to rival the dominant Northern Italian sides.
And the plan worked, because his creation reached Serie A in 1931, the inaugural year of the new Stadio Giovanni Berta (now the Artemio Franchi), a marvel of engineering that brought a lot of attention to the club at the time.
After the World Wars, Fiorentina began to regularly reach the highest echelons, and finished ahead of Milan to win their first Scudetto in 1956.
They soon achieved European glory, too, becoming the first Italian side to win a UEFA competition when they lifted the European Cup Winners’ Cup in 1961.
A second domestic league triumph was then sealed in 1969, when Bruno Pesaola’s men rose to snatch top spot from Cagliari and clinched the title on the penultimate match-day with a victory against Juventus.
The 1970s was a relatively fruitless decade for the Viola, but in 1982 - the year that club symbol Giancarlo Antognoni would go on to win the World Cup – they emerged as the main title challengers to none other than the Bianconeri.
With Fiorentina unable to win against Cagliari on the final day of the season, Juve intensified the rivalry that remains strong between the two sides as they went on to lift the title instead.
In the ‘90s, buoyed by the form of iconic Fiorentina hero Gabriel Batistuta, Claudio Ranieri’s men became the first non-Scudetto winning side to lift the Italian Super Cup when they beat Milan 2-1 in 1996.
But their fortunes experienced a big jolt as the extent of the club’s financial difficulties meant they were forced into administration in 2002, although they soon battled back from the Italian fourth tier to reach Serie A in 2004.
The 2005/06 season saw the managerial arrival of Cesare Prandelli, who, aided by a European Golden Boot-winning season from Luca Toni, guided the Viola to fourth place in the league.
After the club’s longest serving manager departed to take charge of the national team in 2010, the Viola struggled for a while, but the hiring of current coach Vincenzo Montella and the enormous influx of new players that joined him turned things around, and last season they narrowly missed out on the final Champions League spot.
The Stadio Artemio Franchi is one of the most distinctive grounds in Italian football. Inaugurated in 1931, it was built by the architect who also designed the Paul VI Audience Hall (where the Pope often carries out his Wednesday morning address during winter). Its most famous feature is the 230-foot “Tower of Marathon”.
Previously called the Stadio Comunale, the ground was renamed in honour of former Italian Football Federation president, Artemio Franchi, after refurbishments for the 1990 FIFA World Cup.
The running track was removed ahead of that tournament to allow more fans to enjoy the games, and the D-shaped arena can now hold 47, 282.
The Stadio Artemio Franchi occasionally hosts the Italian national team, the most recent occasion being their 1-0 Euro 2012 qualifying win over Slovenia back in September 2011, and it has also witnessed the national rugby team in action.
Fiorentina have brought in a number of proven performers from Europe’s top leagues over the summer, amongst which the standout name is Mario Gomez.
The former Bayern Munich striker won the Champions League last season with the Bavarian club, and scored a total of 41 goals the season before, so his talents are well-known.
Also arriving were Josip Ilicic, an able Slovenian midfielder who was one of Palermo’s shining lights last season, and Massimo Ambrosini, legendary Milan captain who joined on a free transfer.
Juan Cuadrado has caught the eye on the wing with some dazzling skills after making his move from Udinese permanent, and Joaquin’s capabilities on the flanks are familiar from his days with Betis, Valencia and most recently Malaga.
Going the other way, Adem Ljajic was sold to Roma and Stevan Jovetic moved to Manchester City in a big-money deal, while veteran striker Luca Toni joined newly-promoted Hellas Verona.
Though star striker Mario Gomez is currently facing a lengthy injury layoff, Fiorentina still possess plenty of attacking threat in the form of Giuseppe Rossi, who currently sits behind Torino’s Alessio Cerci as the joint-second top scorer in Serie A.
The side also have a technically gifted midfield, with Spaniard Borja Valero and Serie A veteran David Pizarro lining up alongside Alberto Aquilani, who has recently been a regular in the Italian national side.
Captain and dead ball specialist, Manuel Pasqual, was recently capped by Cesare Prandelli in the Italy defence for their World Cup qualifier against Czech Republic and is a consistent performer for the Viola.
The club’s current manager, Vincenzo Montella, enjoyed a successful career as a player, starring in Roma’s 2000/01 Scudetto win and setting the record for the most goals in a Derby Capitolino by netting four for the Giallorossi during the following campaign.
He became fondly known as “The Little Aeroplane” for his trademark wingspan celebration, something which was seen regularly as he went on to reach fourth position in Roma’s all-time top scorer list.
Starting his managerial career in charge of Roma’s Giovanissimi Nazionali, he became interim head coach of the first team in February 2011 after Claudio Ranieri’s resignation, but was released after new club owner Thomas R. DiBenedetto decided to appoint Luis Enrique.
He didn’t have to wait long for a new managerial opportunity, though, as just a few days later he was offered the Catania job.
Montella led the Sicilian outfit to a position above that of local rivals Palermo for the first time in eight years, and left by mutual consent in June 2012 for a new challenge at Fiorentina.