Tottenham v Fiorentina preview
Wednesday, February 18, 2015
While Mauricio Pochettino is preparing Tottenham Hotspur FC for an intense 17 days, Vincenzo Montella wants ACF Fiorentina to be enthusiastic but restrained.
Article top media content
• Tottenham take on Fiorentina in round of 32 first leg
• Mauricio Pochettino: "We expect to get the victory"
• Vincenzo Montella: "We need a bit of fear to keep us on edge"
• Tottenham unbeaten in five home matches against Italian sides
• Second leg in Florence on 26 February
Mauricio Pochettino is confident Tottenham Hotspur FC can challenge on three fronts as they resume their UEFA Europa League challenge at home to ACF Fiorentina.
Thursday's first leg kicks off a run of six games in 17 days for Tottenham – who take on Chelsea FC in the English League Cup final at Wembley on 1 March – but the manager believes his squad have the capacity to deal with the demanding schedule. "I prefer playing every three days because it means we're still in all those competitions – we have a strong squad," the Argentinian said.
Tottenham were without a match at the weekend having been knocked out of the FA Cup in the fourth round, and Pochettino was grateful for the brief respite. "It was good for us to rest, recuperate our energy and clear our minds for the tough period we have ahead. [This] is our 42nd official game in seven months and it's important to manage the squad, analyse each game and player, and be clever to select the best players for each game."
Pochettino's team have won only two of their last five fixtures in all competitions, yet the form of striker Harry Kane – who has netted five times in the last three games, and has five UEFA Europa League goals this season – is likely to prove pivotal. "Harry's a smart lad," said midfielder Nacer Chadli. "He just waits for his moment, the few seconds when he makes the difference, and grabs the chance with both hands."
Fiorentina are unbeaten in their last eight matches, winning the last three, and Tottenham are aware of the threat they pose. Pochettino explained: "Fiorentina are a very tough team, a very good team. I admire [Vincenzo] Montella and the way they play because it's a type of football that seems to have a Spanish philosophy. They are a team that we respect a lot, but we expect to get the victory."
While Pochettino faces a balancing act regarding the demands on his squad, his opposite number Montella has a different dilemma. "We need to have the right level of enthusiasm out on the pitch and be full of energy, but without getting carried away," he said.
"We also need a bit of fear to keep us on edge and be ready physically, tactically and mentally. It's a big game against a strong side with the stadium behind them. We aren't always used to playing in this atmosphere, but we're ready."
Tottenham might boast a talismanic forward but Fiorentina have Mario Gomez, author of five goals in his last four outings. "We've seen how [Kane] has exploded recently; he's one of Spurs' best players at the moment and a goalscorer, so we'll be sure to keep an eye on him," said defender Manuel Pasqual. "Mario is an out-and-out striker and he wants to score goals. Now he's doing that."