Montella: "Napoli a superb side. Ribery will be involved"

Vincenzo Montella discussed the task facing his team and how their preparations are coming along ahead of Saturday’s Serie A opener against Napoli when he faced the media on Friday.

How can Fiorentina beat Napoli?

“Napoli are perhaps the team that have made the fewest changes this summer while we’re perhaps the side that’s changed the most. I think Napoli have averaged around 80 points per season over the last three years and they’ve evolved from [Rafa] Benitez to [Maurizio] Sarri and now [Carlo] Ancelotti. They’re the second-best team in Italy so it’s going to be very tough – just look at how many goals Napoli’s strikers score

“We can’t expect to boss proceedings against Napoli so we’re going to have to channel all our energy, focus and sweat and pull together as a team, along with our fans.”

Are you happy with the new signings?

“The club has done an excellent job and brought in some solid performers like Milan [Badelj] and [Erick] Pulgar. They can play together but Pulgar is playing out of position at the moment and perhaps we need some more defensive wide players – we’re working on that. 

“We’re still at an embryonic stage and our upcoming games don’t make things any easier – that’s not an excuse but a simple fact. As [Daniele] Prade has said, we’re going to strengthen the team further.

“Clearly we’re some way behind in terms of building a team but we have a strong identity, great enthusiasm and we want to develop a clear playing style.”

Will Franck Ribery be involved against Napoli?

“He’s definitely behind in terms of fitness but he’s a great professional. He’s determined to prove himself all over again and help us improve the many good young players we have here. He’ll be in the squad because he wants to be involved and I hope to get the chance to play him at some point.”

Will you pick Dusan Vlahovic or Kevin-Prince Boateng up front?

“They’re two very different players. Dusan had an excellent pre-season. I was already a fan of his last term and he’s improved since then. However, we need to consider other things – like whether he can handle the psychological pressure in a match with three points on the line. He’s the sort of player who’s suited to my style of football, though.

“People say I like to play with a false nine but I want my centre forward to score goals, and if he doesn’t then you need your wide forwards to weigh in with the goals. We have some excellent wide forwards and Federico [Chiesa] is brilliant but last season he only scored six. [Riccardo] Sottil and [Tofol] Montiel are yet to start a game in Serie A. [Giovanni] Simeone normally gets into double figures but didn’t last season. Boateng doesn’t always hit into double figures. The goals have to come from somewhere. Luckily we have centre-backs who can chip in.

“Ribery is superb – he’s probably one of the best providers of assists in the world – but, again, he doesn’t usually hit double figures himself, so there’s work to do.”

Does all this enthusiasm increase the responsibility on you?

“The more responsibility the better but we have to face facts and we have eight new players – more considering the youngsters – and we’re up against teams that are well-oiled machines. It will take time and patience but we’re keen to express our full potential – as individuals at least, if not as a unit for now.”

How do you see Serie A panning out?

“The big clubs are stronger – Napoli for example have added [Kostas] Manolas, [Hirving] Lozano and will perhaps sign another big-name striker – and the medium-sized clubs have made careful additions so I think the overall level is higher and there’s less of a gap between the teams.”

Can Pol Lirola recover in time and do you still consider Cristiano Biraghi as a Fiorentina player?

“Lirola is better and we’ll take a look at him today. Biraghi is available and as always we’ll make the necessary technical and psychological assessments.”

What do you want to do differently compared to the Monza game?

“We struggled defensively the whole game. We weren’t aggressive enough up front and the team suffered as a result. It can be partly explained by the heat and on a subconscious level the perceived level of the opposition but I’m sure that tomorrow the whole team will be aggressive.”

Do you think the game will be won in midfield?

“Napoli have a big goal threat up front and midfielders who score goals too so we’ll need to keep things tight defensively for the duration of the game and hurt them when we have the ball.”

Did the US tour affect your preparations for the season?

“I was very happy with our tour because we got to test ourselves against top opposition and see how some of our younger players fared.”

Is having Commisso around the team for this game and next week’s trip to Genoa a bonus?

“Definitely. If it were for him, he’d be here permanently. He loves being around the team and when he is he motivates the players and me. The enthusiasm shown by the fans – with 25,000 people signing up for season tickets – is largely thanks to him too.”

Published: Fri, 23 Aug 2019 17:00:00 +0200

Source: Fiorentina Official website