Vincenzo Italiano, the Fiorentina manager, has admitted he will tell his players to stop David Moyes’s side from threatening on the counterattack by using tactical fouls during the game in Prague on Wednesday night. Moyes responded by saying he expects the Spanish referee, Carlos del Cerro Grande, in charge of his first European final, to deal with any foul play.
It could be a feisty affair and Emerson believes West Ham, who often look to sit back and attack on the break, will need their wits about them to win their first major trophy in 43 years. The Italy left-back is well aware of the culture in Serie A – he spent three years at Roma before joining Chelsea in 2018 – and knows there could be a lot of gamesmanship from Fiorentina.
“It is the style,” Emerson said. “In Italy I know it very well. They work a lot of tactics and small details. They try to change the game with corners and free-kicks and this is one more thing they do. With the Italians it is like this – to defend, attack, make some fouls. It is their mentality and we need to respect this but we need to put our mentality and our game on them as well.
“I like English football more – more attacking and more football for the fans. When you play against opponents like this, it is not easy. When we play people like this, when they try to stop the game, mentally you want to do something different and then it is foul, foul, foul. We need to try to find a solution.”
Emerson, who signed from Chelsea last summer, acknowledged that West Ham must adapt their approach accordingly. “Fiorentina play so aggressive, one against one all over the pitch, so they try to stop the game and its their style,” the 28-year-old said. “It is good for them because when you press high you need to make some fouls. It is normal in football but we need to take this on and try to find the space in behind them.”
Emerson, who started when Italy beat England in the Euro 2020 final, could become the first player to win the Champions League, Europa League and Conference League. He has experience of big games and is confident West Ham will handle the occasion. Emerson is likely to be on the bench, with Aaron Cresswell expected to start at left-back.