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Sousa out to ensure crucial Europa League progression

Fiorentina coach Paulo Sousa has talked up the importance of Thursday’s Europa League meeting with Belenenses as the Serie A club look to ensure their place in the knockout stages.

Sousa’s men trail Group I leaders Basel by three points in second going into the final round of matches but Fiorentina know a draw will be enough to see them into the last 32.

Defeats to Basel and Lech Poznan mean Sousa’s men have work still to do but the Portuguese feels Europa League progression is crucial to their season.

“Tomorrow’s game is extremely important for a team like Fiorentina,” he said. “We have to give everything to be a leading side in Europe.

“We want to end the group stages on a high note after such a difficult start so that we can return to playing our football.

“Certain elements have conspired against us, especially having to play some games with 10 men. We know what it takes to grow and we know that during a season we won’t always achieve our goals because there will always be opponents who cause difficulty for us.

“I hope to win something with Fiorentina because it would mean being closer to winning the Champions League.”

Fiorentina sit second in Serie A – a point off leaders Inter – and take on defending champions Juventus in Turin on Sunday.

As Sousa’s men prepare to face another test of their Scudetto credentials, midfielder Milan Badelj warned that thoughts must remain on Thursday’s visit of Belenenses.

“A lot of people are already looking at Sunday but we want to progress in Europe so we’re only focused on the game with Belenenses,” he added.

“We’re preparing as we always do. Tomorrow will be a decisive game and we want to win in front of our fans.”

Wed 9 Dec, 2015
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