The only Esbjerg fB player to have plied his trade in Italy, Martin Bergvold hopes Thursday's UEFA Europa League round of 32 opener against ACF Fiorentina will give him another reason to celebrate.
An AS Livorno Calcio player from 2007–10, the midfielder is targeting victory as he renews acquaintances with the Viola on his 30th birthday, saying: "That would be a great way to celebrate my 30th birthday, and what makes it even more special is the fact I made my debut for Livorno against Fiorentina – which was also near my birthday." A 2-1 defeat on 28 January 2007, to be precise.
The Danish side have already exceeded many people's expectations by making it through the group stage. They have left bigger clubs in their wake en route – notably eliminating AS Saint-Étienne in the play-offs and beating R. Standard de Liège home and away in Group C. "That has given us a good deal of belief, so I really do not see why we should not be able to spring another surprise against Fiorentina," said Bergvold. "I hope we can, and anyway it is going to be a great experience."
The FC København and Lyngby BK old boy knows that Niels Frederiksen's team are in for a serious test against opponents who have already booked their place in the Coppa Italia final and are battling for a UEFA Champions League finish in Serie A.
"Of course they will be a handful, especially as their league has continued through the winter, while we have only been playing friendlies," explained Bergvold, who joined Esbjerg in 2012/13 following a second spell with first club København. "However, their programme may also have tired them a bit, while we can come into the game with energy and enthusiasm.
"And maybe they do not know all that much about us up here in Esbjerg, so I would not say it is unrealistic to dream about a 1-0 win or a goalless draw," added the former Danish Under-21 international. "Stopping them scoring will be crucial. If we can do that, we will be looking at an interesting second leg in Italy."
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