Vincenzo Montella and Manuel Pasqual believe the Bianconeri’s big-name players and experience on the European stage will make tomorrow’s Europa League last 16 return leg a testing one for Fiorentina.
Speaking to the media in Florence, Viola boss Montella started by revealing the vital ingredients required for a positive performance in Thursday night’s winner-takes-all affair at the Artemio Franchi.
The 39-year-old began: “Juventus are a top-rate side and we need to play with composure and enthusiasm. That’s the only way we’ll be able to perform to our best. They know it will be tough but they’ve got plenty of experience of these games under their belts.”
Since swapping Catania for Fiorentina in 2012, Montella’s performances in the dugout have continued to attract praise from far and wide, resulting in his nomination alongside Antonio Conte for this season’s ‘Panchina d’Oro’ award.
“I'm really proud to have been in contention for the accolade, given that I’m still young. I’ve got plenty of respect for Conte, we know each other. He manages to transmit all his determination and strength to the team.”
Tomorrow’s hosts approach the encounter with a vital away goal in their armoury following Mario Gomez’s late strike at Juventus Stadium.
And the German forward, on the comeback trail after suffering a serious injury at the start of the campaign, continued his recent progress by netting his first home goal in Fiorentina colours during last weekend’s 3-1 triumph over Chievo.
Despite the 28-year-old giving his hopes of a starting berth a significant boost with a recent return to goalscoring form, Montella remained tight-lipped when quizzed on the possibility of seeing his name included in the starting line-up.
“Mario’s condition is improving and I want to run the rule over him today. I still need to decide, I could set my team up in a certain way at the start and then finish differently. There are various possible tactical scenarios I could go with.”
Sat alongside Montella in the Artemio Franchi press suite was defender Pasqual. The Viola captain, who has been with the club since 2005, spoke about his initial hopes of avoiding a Juventus side blessed with the talents of Andrea Pirlo.
The 32-year-old said: “I’d fully settle for a goalless draw. I hoped we wouldn’t meet Juventus so soon in the competition. Pirlo’s the one to watch – he’s capable of making the difference at any given moment.”
Concluding with a thought on the atmosphere in and around Florence, Pasqual warned the home supporters against complacency, insisting his team still have an important job to do against a side more than capable of turning the tables.
He added: “There’s plenty of energy coming from the city, but also the feeling that we’ve already made it through. That’s not the case, we’re fully aware of the potential possessed by Juventus.”