Fiorentina coach Vincenzo Montella met with the assembled media at the Stadio Franchi this morning as he prepares his team for tomorrow’s league clash with Serie A leaders Juventus, the first of three meetings in 10 days against the Bianconeri with a two-legged Europa League tie just around the corner.
The first question for the Viola boss was about the FIGC’s decision to cut Borja Valero’s ban by just one game. He replied: “I have to think about coaching the team, so what it means to me is that I’ll have a fresher player for the Europa League.”
Fiorentina are the only side to beat Juventus in Serie A this season. What does that mean?
“It means that they’re a strong team, both as a group and as individuals, tactically and technically. They also have an excellent coach and a winning tradition. Preparing for a game such as this provides you with added incentive. The players know that and are determined to try and get a result at a stadium where the home side has won every game this season. I expect to see my team playing their game with character and without fear.”
Have the injustices Fiorentina have suffered this season affected the team’s enthusiasm?
“No, you get ups and downs throughout the course of a season and we mustn’t seek excuses. We have to keep believing in what we’ve been doing over the last two years. We mustn’t lose our enthusiasm, conviction and confidence. Life is full of injustices: you can’t fix them all.”
How is Gomez doing psychologically speaking?
“He’s getting better. Psychologically he’s probably been affected by the fact that so far he’s not been able to give us what he wanted to give us and what we hoped he could do for us, but that’s not his fault. He’s been sidelined for a long time so mentally he’s not 100% because at the moment he can’t do the things that normally come natural to him. I don’t think it will be long before we see him back to his best. Often all it takes is a goal, even a lucky one.”
“He’s improving a lot but isn’t quite there yet. When the coach picks the team he has to consider that the game lasts 95 minutes. When you prepare a game sometimes you know that you’ll have to make at least one or two substitutions, but then things can happen during the match that upset your plans. He hasn’t got 90 minutes in him yet but he’s enthusiastic and I’m pleased with his commitment.”
Are you worried about facing Juve twice in a week, both in Serie A and the Europa League?
“This is football. Obviously I’d have preferred to play another team in Europe but as I said it’s motivating for us. We’ll have to dig deep and perhaps even raise our game. We have to go about it with character and confidence because if we want to have higher ambitions than fourth or fifth, we must show it on the pitch.”
A lot of people think you should channel your energy into the Europa League tie.
“I don’t see why we can’t channel all our energy into both. We’re not prioritising one or the other because even if you do that it can backfire and you end up with nothing anyway.”
Are Rossi and Gomez better than Llorente and Tevez?
“There’s an easy answer to that but then I could end up motivating the opposition even more! So I’ll just say that I would have liked to have had Rossi and Gomez available all season.”