We take on the Serie A side, known as La Viola, at Stadio Artemio Franchi in the round of 32, some 12 months after losing out to the same opponents in the same competition.
Our 2-0 away defeat last year – which led to a 3-1 reverse on aggregate – came a matter of days before our Capital One Cup Final showdown with Chelsea at Wembley, but Head Coach Mauricio expects better fortunes for us without that distraction this time around.
“It’s always exciting to play in the Europa League and this is an important game in Florence,” he said as we prepare for our first game in Europe since December 10.
“It’s true that it was a difficult period for us when we played against Fiorentina last season. The Capital One Cup Final against Chelsea was just three days after (the second leg) and it was difficult to prepare for that final and keep our focus on the Europa League.
“Now it’s different and we need to try to show that we are better than them. It’s never easy because they have a very good team and they are playing well but you need to believe and today, our squad believes we can do better. We now need to deliver.”
Unlike last season, we kick off the tie away from home and Mauricio believes that could work to our advantage as we look to continue an impressive run of form that has seen us pick up seven straight wins in all competitions prior to tonight’s game in Italy.
“It’s always important to have the second leg at home in front of our supporters with their energy and support, which will be fantastic, but for us in this game, it’s important to keep the same mentality, motivation and desire that we’ve shown recently,” he said. “It is key to ensure we’re hungry to play and it’s important to keep our momentum.”
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