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Familiar foe for Jan

Posted on 18 February 2015  - 14:25

Speaking from experience, Jan Vertonghen expects an even battle between ourselves and Fiorentina in the Europa League.

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We take on the Serie A side in the first leg of our Round of 32 tie at White Hart Lane on Thursday, keen on producing a repeat of the fine team performances we’ve seen in recent weeks in a bid to make further progress on the continent.

Defender Jan was an Ajax player when the Dutch side met La Viola in 2008-09, in what was then known as the UEFA Cup, and – based on what he saw of our Italian opponents in his former club’s 2-1 aggregate victory – he expects a tough test this week.

“It’s a brilliant tie,” he said. “I’ve played against them before and they haven’t changed – of course, the players have but they are always competing to be in the Champions League.

“I was injured for the first leg when I was up against them with Ajax in 2009, but I remember Kennedy Bakircioglu scored the goal in a 1-0 win.

“The second leg was my first game back from injury. We were 1-0 down, Alberto Gilardino – who is now back with Fiorentina on loan – scored but then Leonardo scored for 1-1 and we went through.

“This week we’re involved in one of the best ties in this stage of the Europa League between two attacking teams and I’m sure they will be two good games.

“Fiorentina have world-class players, it will be a tight tie and quality-wise we are close to each other.

“For us, we’re still where we want to be. It’s a shame we’re out of the FA Cup but we have a final to come in the Capital One Cup, we’re still competing in the Premier League and we’ve got two good games to come against Fiorentina, so we’re in a good way.”