The 44-year-old needs a result in Edinburgh to ignite his club’s Europa Conference League campaign after a run of just one win in ten games. They have taken just one point from two Group A matches and lost 1-0 to Atalanta in Bergamo in Sunday’s Serie A match.
Speaking about how to approach the match against Hearts, Italiano was clear on his gameplan. It may well include the former Real Madrid forward Luka Jovic, one of Fiorentina’s highest-profile players. “This is a very important game for us. We must force their hand and try to force some errors,” said Italiano. “We have to win this game, it’s very important for us. We will be applying the pressure.
“In Bergamo, we had to throw many different things and options at the game. I think we came away with a respectable result. Tomorrow will be very different, the team will be very different.
“Jovic, [Arthur] Cabral and the changes in Atalanta worked very well for us. Nico [Gonzalez] should be fit and we will see how that works. We have many options at our disposal.
“We haven’t done well away from home. It’s not tactical, it’s an outlook we have to correct. We have to be more courageous, entrepreneurial and take these wins. We know we can do it.”
Fiorentina lost 3-0 away to Istanbul Basaksehir in their last European tie. “Our experience in Istanbul wasn’t positive,” conceded Brazilian centre-back Igor Julio. “We did quite well in the first half and then lost concentration. Based on the Bergamo game, we can take that into tomorrow and return home with three points, which is most important.”
Italiano and his coaching staff have spent time watching Hearts, analyzing their training and pinpointing strengths and weaknesses. “Having watched the Istanbul and RFS games, Hearts are very strong,” he said.
“We have studied how they play and we know they have great fan support. They will have that here. We will give 100 per cent from the first minute.”
The Italians cannot afford to lose in Scotland if they intend to progress from the section. Italiano referenced their 2-1 aggregate play-off victory over Dutch side FC Twente to reach this stage as evidence that they can garner a result when needed.
“The game against Twente was very important to win and we won that. Tomorrow is the same. Hearts have very supportive fans, we must match this through fans and on the pitch. It will be a very difficult game, tactically.”
Jovic is still working to establish himself since joining Fiorentina from Real. The Serbia internationalist cost the Spanish giants more than £50million in 2019 but left the Bernabeu for Florence in July this year. He may be unleashed on Hearts.
“Jovic came on for the last 15 minutes against Atalanta and showed lots of positivity and created things,” said Italiano. “He is only 24 and there is a lot of pressure added to him. He needs confidence and support from his team and the club. He will grow and become better. Even a fluke goal will let him grow to where he needs to be. I have great confidence in what he will become.”
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