Leader of a Benetton Treviso team which underwent major changes in the off-season, Antonio PAVANELLO has already tasted victory against top French sides in the European Cup, such as Perpignan (in 2009) ou Biarritz (in 2011). In his sixth season as captain of Treviso, the veteran lock believes that to beat Racing on Sunday (18:15pm) they will need more than their fair share of luck.
Antonio, how are things going with your team at the moment?
We are going through a difficult time. In the off-season we lost 22 players, we have a new coach, a new system of play. In short there have been a lot of changes compared to previous seasons, and things have yet to fall into place. We still haven’t won a game, so we are under pressure to perform, and we need to get a first win under our belts to get rid of the negative atmosphere. But it’s going to be tough for us!
In your opinion, why is your team finding it so difficult this season?
We are rebuilding, but we still lack the backbone of the team that we used to depend on. Out of the 18 players who remain from last season, many of them are young, and not necessarily first choice in their position. We recruited a lot of foreign players, but they don’t speak Italian so we there are communication problems on the pitch. What’s more, this week our eight internationals were away until Thursday at the Italian team training camp, so our preparation has hardly been ideal.
What is your opinion of Racing Metro 92?
A great front row, a very good scrum and lineout…(sighs). As a lock forward, when I look at your second row of Kruger and Charteris, I know it’s going to be very very hard for us at lineout time. But Racing has quality players throughout the team, guys like Sexton at fly-half who are capable of pulling off great actions at any time. We don’t have as many strengths, although we will look to our back row of Alessandro Zanni and Simone Favaro to play a major role on defence.
As you well know, the history of the European Cup has shown that Treviso has often created an upset against highly fancied French teams…
That’s true! (laughs). We have a positive history against French teams, such as Perpignan and Biarritz! But we know it is going to be very difficult for us on Sunday. Losing heavily against the Ospreys (42-7) in the first round was another poor performance for us, and I really hope we can turn things around this weekend. Maybe it will be a lucky day for us, and if luck is on our side, perhaps we can beat Racing. We are going to do our best, but it is going to be very, very hard!
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