FC Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk and ACF Fiorentina won their UEFA Europa League Group E openers and both coaches are well aware of the opportunity that awaits them on Thursday in Ukraine.
Juande Ramos's Dnipro, aiming to reach the round of 32 for the second year running, overcame SSC Napoli 3-1 here in the group stage last season. They began this European campaign with a 1-0 victory at CS Pandurii Târgu Jiu and, in the midst of a 12-game unbeaten run, sit second in the Ukrainian Premier-Liha. Even so, Ramos knows even a depleted Fiorentina present their sternest test yet.
"It will be a difficult game," said the Spaniard. "Italian teams are always tough, they play compactly and they have a strong league, which means they are always in good shape. They will make us work very hard. We will fight and only the game will show who is better."
Forward Yevgen Seleznyov added: "We fully understand how important this match is for the club. We are preparing accordingly. We will play in front of our own supporters, meaning an additional responsibility for us. I don't think we should make conclusions based on Fiorentina's [2-2 Monday-night draw] with Parma. We have to study them in depth. Fiorentina play differently against different teams."
A 3-0 win against FC Paços de Ferreira on matchday one has given Fiorentina a formidable platform to build on, but coach Vincenzo Montella must deal with several injury blows. Giuseppe Rossi has a calf strain and fellow forward Ante Rebić has pulled a hamstring, ruling them out along with Alberto Aquilani, Mario Gomez and Olexandr Iakovenko. All of which makes Ryder Matos the only available striker.
"We are facing a very good team: they are well organised and very quick, so we have to be alert," Montella said, hoping his side – fifth in Serie A – can recover from conceding a late equaliser on Monday. "I acknowledge my mistakes but we have time to work on them."
Midfielder Massimo Ambrosini is upbeat. "We have started the competition very well and are ready to go on in the same manner," he said. "We know our opponents are in fine form. We are not favourites but we are prepared to fight for a win."
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