Paulo Sousa says Fiorentina cannot afford to prioritise Serie A over the Europa League and has urged his side to maintain “a culture of winning”.
The Viola surrendered top spot in the league over the weekend after a 2-2 draw with Empoli, during which they were forced to battle back from 2-0 down.
Sousa takes his side to former club Basel on Thursday, knowing that a victory would move them top of Group I with one match to play, and the Portuguese coach insists sustaining form across all competitions is paramount for his squad.
“My first thought being back here is very positive, as we had many happy moments together and for me it’s always a pleasure to return to face people I shared so much joy with,” he said.
“Basel obviously invested more heavily this year, as they want to reach the final in their home stadium. I hope we can be ourselves and overcome the challenges of this game.
“We cannot have a preference between Serie A and Europe, because a culture of victory has to be fed by consistent wins. You can’t just abandon the notion of winning. We must be aware of what that all means and we have to even out the petrol in the tank.”
Sousa has warned his players not to forget the lessons learned from the draw with Empoli, either, adding: “Even when a performance is not the best, I don’t think you should forget it completely. It could happen again and so it helps you to learn and be more focused in future.”
Defender Nenad Tomovic revealed the players spoke at length following the match, but is confident they can continue to improve this term.
“What was said remains between us,” the 28-year-old said. “I can say we managed to get a good result but above all we showed desire to recover. We could’ve won but the result was right in the end.
“We try to improve game by game. We can do much better.”