Fiorentina, Italian: “Tomorrow as if it were the last match. I’m different from 2021”

Live TMW

3.40pm – In a little while Vincenzo Italianocoach of Fiorentina, presents tomorrow’s Conference League final against Olympiacos in a press conference.

4.46pm – The press conference begins.

What has changed since a year ago?
“The only thing that’s different is that we’ve already experienced certain things. Then in my opinion these are 50-50 games: they’re strong and we’re strong, we have to play a match like finals are played. We have a bit of experience, we have something behind us and we have to show it tomorrow. I live this match with great anticipation… I hear and read what they say, for us it is a sort of revenge. Tomorrow we must not make mistakes, remaining attentive and focused. The final must be played with the fire inside and the maximum application. Last year we didn’t have a good epilogue, we will put that bitterness to make it end differently knowing that the opponent is strong, quality and prepared: it will be tough.”

You have recovered Dodo: how important is this?
“Since he returned, we didn’t expect to find him in this condition. Already so ready for high-level performances… He always took to the field going strong, at the beginning we tried to manage him but when he returned to 100% he expressed at his level. He’s fine, in his return with Bruges he played a great match and for us he’s an added weapon. We also have Kayode and Faraoni… We’re in good shape on the right.”

What is the key word or concept?
“What they heard me say between the pitch and the changing rooms is that we must never lose our identity. Indeed, even more so we must show the organisation, the football thinking that allowed you to play in a final. With adjustments and adaptations at the individual: maximum perception of danger, concreteness and concentration on everything you are going to do. The detail. There is no time to reply and it is a final, so I say identity and competitive fury. That must not be missing, the match is too much important”.

What plan do you have for El Kaabi?
“We brought chains and padlocks (he smiles, ed.). Both he and the team have made a great journey: if we arrive undefeated, they have put in great performances in the last few games, reaching the final with high-level performances. He scores regularly and he knows how to score in every way, he’s fine and we know he’s a strong point for our opponent. We’ll try to limit him, we can do it with dedication and determination.

Would you have preferred to play in another city?
“I didn’t know that Olympiacos had already won here, another added danger… But on the pitch everything takes second place: half the stadium is for Fiorentina, half for Olympiacos. They play in their city but not nothing changes. Good for them who didn’t travel without preparing situations in advance and being able to work at home. But you get on the pitch and it’s 50-50. We put everything aside and think about ourselves, giving everything we have.”

Any regrets about how the championships went over the three years?
“I wasn’t even thinking about the championship… But whether you want the route in Europe or not, something takes away from you. We try to rotate everyone and have fresh people, to rotate, but it takes something away from you. That concentration we had in Europe every now and then we lacked But in the end, in my opinion, we didn’t do so badly in Serie A, with a seventh place and two eighths, always arriving in Europe. We all wanted more and we didn’t succeed, but a double European final remains a source of great satisfaction. In the cup we found different strategies, especially in the second match, to make the strategies we wanted. This allowed us to reach the two finals between Serie A, Conference and Italian Cup, also adding the Super Cup, our path is more how positive. When I arrived in Florence, thinking of presenting myself for two consecutive years in front of such an audience wasn’t even in my head, just like getting to play all these finals with the group. Tomorrow we have the chance to achieve this joy that we have been chasing for a long time.”

How much has changed and grown since you and the team have been in Florence? What do you think about when you see images of Prague again?
“It’s normal that it’s different from when I arrived. My dream was to reach Europe with Fiorentina and I succeeded. My wealth of knowledge has grown considerably. With the boys we changed many things on the pitch and I discovered new aspects: not I’ve missed nothing in these three years, between collective goals and tactical aspects. I’m different from 2021 and I’m happy about that, but I knew that you have players of this level at your disposal, you have to make yourself available and you already know that will have to be changed. Thinking back to Prague I think of the faces of the boys at the final whistle and I wouldn’t want to see them again tomorrow so beautiful and unlike Prague, certain aspects are needed. That match hurt us, the whole club and Florence: we will try to reverse the situation.”

Have you prepared something to counter Mendilibar? Have you prepared the penalties?
“With the new coach they found the right solution: they had problems, he was the third coach and with him they put everything in order, going strong in Europe and beating opponents of the highest level. We saw an organized team, which knows how to apply pressure and play under line of the ball, attacking directly. They have experienced, quality, valuable and talented players. As long as they are in the final it determines the value, it is the identity that scares us the most We have to know how to create a lot and be concrete to hurt a team that we can put in difficulty. We tried penalties, we stopped because we have a lot of people with the personality to beat them. We went through two rounds on penalties of the Italian Cup while in the championship we made some mistakes and for this reason perhaps we are not in a different position. Let’s see how it goes.”