Pioli hails never-say-die spirit as Fiorentina fight back to draw

Pioli hails never-say-die spirit as Fiorentina fight back to draw

28/02/2019 12:14

Stefano Pioli lauded the character shown by his Fiorentina side as they twice battled back to secure a 3-3 draw with Atalanta in the first leg of their Coppa Italia semi-final tie at the Stadio Artemio Franchi on Wednesday night.

“We have a great strength and that’s that we’re never out of games,” he said. “We have a strategy and we stick to it from start to finish and in that respect we’re quite similar teams. We have excellent players and so do Atalanta. Both teams play with lots of intensity and bite. It’s good to see a team prepare for a game and stick to the plan and keep even when things get tough – that’s really important for me and it’s why I’m so proud of the players.”

The Viola showed real courage to level the match at 2-2 having found themselves 2-0 down, but Pioli agreed that it was Atalanta’s third goal that represented the biggest blow for his side.

“We made a couple of mistakes for the first two goals but the quality of the Atalanta players showed in those ones,” he said. “At that time [of the third goal] we’d not been giving them chances and had just had a good opportunity through Vitor Hugo from a corner. We needed a bit more focus and to mark better – we know how important that is, but it’s also important to win the second balls.  They did well to capitalise.

“That said, it shows my players in an even better light because having battled back after falling 2-0 behind, we went behind again when we didn’t deserve it. We’ve salvaged an important result. It’s not the one we wanted or hoped for – we hoped to win the game – and Atalanta have the advantage, but it’s not over.”

Fiorentina face Atalanta in the league on Sunday, with the second leg scheduled to take place in April.

“We’ll analyse this game closely and try to identify areas for improvement,” he said. “We’ll try to identify the best possible solutions and focus on continuing to be an expansive, offensive team because our sole aim is to win. It won’t be easy against Atalanta, from a mental perspective too, so we’ll need to stand strong and be ready.”

Last but certainly not least, Pioli said a few words about the wonderful support showed by the Fiorentina fans.

“I’m delighted with the atmosphere and their support – today, yesterday and for a long time now,” he said. “There’s a different feel around the stadium: support, passion, positivity. Of course, we’re all fans and when we don’t win we’re not happy, but it’s up to us as a team and as a club to cultivate this enthusiasm and positivity. The support was amazing tonight. Credit to the fans. We hope to give them something to celebrate this season.”

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