Antonio Cincotta and Alia Guagni preview Arsenal clash

Antonio Cincotta and Alia Guagni preview Arsenal clash

11/09/2019 21:50

Fiorentina Women’s FC coach Antonio Cincotta and captain Alia Guagni appeared at a pre-match press conference on Wednesday to preview the UEFA Women’s Champions League Round of 32 tie against Arsenal.

It will be the Viola’s third consecutive appearance in the Round of 32 stage – but Cincotta believes Thursday night’s match will be very different.

“It’s a very different start because something very important has happened: we’ve become one of the seeded teams,” he said. “We’re really proud of that – it’s credit to what the girls have achieved over the last few years, picking up lots of ranking points. Despite that, we were drawn against a very good side with long traditions in Arsenal. It will be a very tricky tie. But it’ll be a good one against one of the best teams in Europe.”

Cincotta spoke candidly about the size of the challenge facing the Viola against Arsenal.

“Last year we lost 7-0 on aggregate to Chelsea,” he said. “This year we’re up against Arsenal, who are the reigning English champions and finished 12 points clear of Chelsea and eight points clear of Manchester City. Arsenal also won 6-0 away at Chelsea last season. We’ve definitely acquired some international experience over the last few years, but we have to be very clear when we talk about the calibre of the opposition. They’re not just a good side: they’re a dream side against a team – ours – that wants to dream.”

Alia Guagni said it would be a special night at the Stadio Artemio Franchi on Thursday.

“It’s amazing every time we play in this stadium – I get goose bumps every time I walk out,” she said. “To be representing Fiorentina in such an important game… It’ll be another experience I carry with me forever.”

It was widely reported that Guagni turned down a move to Real Madrid to stay with Fiorentina over the summer, with the Viola captain reiterating her love for the club on Wednesday.

“I listened to my heart, but it was more than that,” he said. “There’s a great project and real desire to do well here at Fiorentina. That’s why I decided to stay here. I really believe in this club and of course the jersey means a lot to me. We want to do well and we want to keep improving – we still have work to do, because we’re on the right track but we’ve not been on this journey long. I believe we can go a long way.”

Cincotta also offered an update on the team news ahead of the season opener.

“The team has been training together for 40 days,” he said. “All of the players are available apart from [Lana] Clelland, [Michele] Catena and [Valery] Vigilucci, who had to have operations during the summer, so they’re not ready because they need more time to recover. Ilaria Mauro was left out of the last Italy squad because she’s still dealing with a small back issue, but we’re hoping to have her back. Alia [Guagni] picked up a knock in training a couple of days ago but we hope she will be fine too.”

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