Walter Mazzarri warns Torino “have to get through at all costs” against counter-attack specialists Debrecen in the Europa League.
The first leg in the Europa League preliminary round kicks off in Alessandria – as the Stadio Olimpico Grande Torino is being used for a concert – on Thursday at 20.00 UK time (19.00 GMT).
“Debrecen have been training for six weeks already, they’ve played a qualifying round too, so that’s the main difficulty we’ll be dealing with,” said Mazzarri in his Press conference.
“However, we do have the advantage that we’re practically the same squad as last season, so we know what we’re doing. It’s fundamental that we keep a clean sheet, because Debrecen’s biggest strength is the counter-attack and we’ve got to be wary.
“We need to use our heads and pass the ball around when we’re tired, not just surge forward without focus. Last season we were in extraordinary shape, but we can’t play that way at this moment, so we must be more mature in controlling the tempo.”
Toro were not originally in the Europa League, but were promoted when Milan pulled out due to Financial Fair Play issues, bumping Roma from the preliminary round to the group stage.
“This is the most dangerous game of the campaign and I hope they won’t let the praise go to their heads. I have to thank several players who cut their vacations short in order to be here, but some nonetheless arrived at the last minute.
“I am apprehensive and trying to transmit that sense of danger to the players so they keep on their toes. I’ll keep some doubts on the starting XI until tomorrow morning.
“We mustn’t lose our identity, just do things a little more carefully considering our fitness levels, especially as Debrecen will wait for our error so they can go on the counter. There are also dangers from set plays, but I’ve informed my lads of everything they need to be wary of and focused on the importance of a clean sheet.
“Debrecen are among the best sides in Hungary, they have a splendid stadium and recently played in the Champions League, causing problems for a lot of big clubs. They are physically strong, quick and can get past defenders.
“I told the players, we have to get through this round at all costs. We cannot ruin what we’ve worked so hard to build. I am more fired up for this game than I was against Chelsea.”