Fiorentina coach Vincenzo Italiano insists that every one of his side’s matches are a matter of ‘life and death’, as he and his players prepare to go toe-to-toe with Club Brugge for a spot in the Europa Conference League final on Thursday evening.

Fiorentina possess a one-goal advantage heading into Thursday’s semi-final second leg in Brugge, having beaten the Belgians 3-2 in Tuscany last week.

Italiano sat down for his customary pre-match press conference on Wednesday evening, where he went into detail about the pride he feels having reached the semi-finals of the competition for two years in succession.

Pride aside, the coach recognises that his players still have their work cut out for them if they are to reach two consecutive European finals.

Italiano pre-Brugge assessment

“There is still work to do,” Italiano said, reported via TMW.

“We must take advantage of our one-goal lead, but without letting ourselves get distracted and by continuing to make the plays that got us here in the first place.

“We will try to put them in difficulty, like we did in the first leg. And despite the fact that we gave them two goals through our own mistakes, I thought we played a great game.

“By limiting errors, we can put them in trouble. We want it, but we must not let ourselves become influenced by what’s going on around us, because then it could be us that ends up in difficulty.”

Italiano was asked about his side’s recent exit from the Coppa Italia at the semi-final stage, where Fiorentina had led Atalanta by one goal to nil after the first leg. They would then go on to lose 4-2 on aggregate.

“The first thing I have to say is that certain incidents in these matches were influenced, like the sending off in Bergamo, where we weren’t having a bad game at all,” he replied.

Life or death for Fiorentina

The coach was then asked if Thursday’s game against Brugge would define Fiorentina’s success for the season.

He said: “Fiorentina’s journey so far has been positive, we have got to another semi-final. We’ll see what happens tomorrow, but having got to May 7th and still being in contention for a trophy is pretty extraordinary.

“We’ve been at the centre of attention in this competition for two years in a row, we have brought a lot of pride to our supporters and we want to continue on our journey in Europe.

When asked if he takes any personal pride in Fiorentina’s recent success in the Conference League, Italiano replied: “From an individual point of view, I don’t care too much, I just want to reach the final with the boys. I’m not interested in individual targets, I just want to fulfil another dream and we have to do that collectively.

“At the beginning of my time here, I wanted to play in the cups, get to Europe, and we did it in the first year. 17 (extra) games last year, 13 this year, 30 in two years. Important experience that has helped us grow.

“The experience playing in Europe is beautiful and I’m happy to have done it with these guys. For us, every match is life or death.”

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