No team have more experience of European women's club quarter-finals than Arsenal LFC, who welcome ASD Torres CF on Wednesday for the first leg of their last-eight tie. But Torres will have plenty of know-how on their side too, with 38-year-old striker Patrizia Panico spearheading their UEFA Women's Champions League bid. The Italy captain discussed her side's hopes with UEFA.com.
UEFA.com: What are your thoughts about the quarter-final against Arsenal?
Patrizia Panico: We have been doing well. Of course we haven't won anything yet; we have won one title this season so far, the Italian Super Cup, but the decisive time is now. We have to go into these important matches in the Champions League or the domestic league, or the final of the Italian Cup, at the top of our physical strength. If not, you can still do well but then you don't win anything and that's not OK.
UEFA.com: What type of tie do you expect from Arsenal?
Panico: I played against them before, with Bardolino Verona in London. It turned out to be a beautiful match which ended 3-3. But Arsenal are a very strong team, and have a lot of international players, the same as Torres. They play an English style of football, which is nice and very entertaining, very fast and very passionate. We have a lot of respect for Arsenal, but we are not scared.
UEFA.com: This Torres team is very strong; is it the best you've played for?
Panico: I don't know, but I don't think so. The strongest team I have played for was Torres two years ago, when we were knocked out of the Champions League by Juvisy. That team didn't really prove its strength, but there were nine internationals in it; it was really a strong team.
The strongest teams on paper are not necessarily the teams which win the most. To win, you don't need a team of 11 international players. You need a lot of other things too. You don't have to have the strongest 11 players, but maybe about seven or eight of the strongest ones, and then two or three who can grow, who can give you that little extra like humility, speed and physical factors.
UEFA.com: Before rejoining Torres, you had a spell in the United States with Sky Blue FC in 2010. What was that experience like?
Panico: At the beginning, when I went to America I saw some nice football played. We had a Finnish coach [Pauliina Miettinen] who was very good, one of the best around. She tried to coach us to play beautiful football, with the ball on the ground, great passing, quick and continuous moves, never being easy to pick up on the pitch. The American players didn't like that very much, because they like organisation, but it was a very important experience for me. It gave me a lot, above all in terms of intensity. The intensity of the training I found in America I will never find anywhere else in the world.
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