Highly-rated Fiorentina playmaker Federico Bernardeschi, 21, reveals his dream final, discusses the last-32 meeting with Tottenham and recalls his "perfect" European debut.
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Fiorentina starlet Federico Bernardeschi marked his UEFA Europa League bow last season with his first senior goal – in only his second appearance for the club. This term, meanwhile, the skilful 21-year-old has scored three in five outings to help the Italian outfit reach the knockout stage and a round of 32 meeting with Tottenham. Here the attacking midfielder tells UEFA.com about his dream final, discusses the impact of coach Paulo Sousa and recalls his "perfect" European debut.
UEFA.com: The Viola booked their place in the knockout phase on matchday six. Were you expecting an easier task in Group I?
Federico Bernardeschi: Our group was not at all easy. We had to dig deep until the very end but finally managed to qualify, and we were all delighted to do so. Qualification was the most important thing and we achieved our objective.
UEFA.com: Which team impressed you the most in your section?
Bernardeschi: [Group winners] Basel for sure – they are an excellent side, no doubt about that. But we also proved we can play good football.
UEFA.com: Paulo Sousa replaced Vincenzo Montella last June after leaving Basel. Tell us about his impact in Florence so far.
Bernardeschi: I can only say good things about him. He is very charismatic and is helping me to develop. As for his work with the squad, the results speak for themselves. He is a great coach.
UEFA.com: Fiorentina and Tottenham meet in the round of 32 for the second season running. Can you eliminate Spurs again?
Bernardeschi: Like last year we were unlucky with the draw. Tottenham are obviously a very good side and they will be seeking revenge. We know it won't be easy but we are ready to give our all because we want to go all the way.
UEFA.com: Which club would you like to meet in the latter stages?
Bernardeschi: It would be fantastic to play Manchester United in the final. Sometimes I dream about this game – yet it's something that could really happen. Reaching the final would be a dream.
UEFA.com: Which players would you like to face?
Bernardeschi: Gonzalo Higuaín is a wonderful striker. And then there is a certain Wayne Rooney...
UEFA.com: You marked your European debut with a goal against Guingamp in September 2014. Tell us about that night.
Bernardeschi: I will never forget that game. Everything went perfectly. I scored and we won in my first match in Europe. Registering for the senior team was a unique feeling – something I had dreamed about since I was a child.