Roma manager Eusebio Di Francesco and midfielder Daniele De Rossi spoke today ahead of tomorrow’s first leg clash in Rome against Porto in the Champions League. These are their words:
The competition where you had an important journey last season returns. Can this help restore Roma?
The path is long but this match is a great chance to produce a big performance and bring back some enthusiasm. There are only two Italian sides left in the competition: we are proud to be one of them. We have to aim high.
Without Marega and Corona, what sort of Porto will you face?
They have excellent substitutes with different characteristics, especially in attack — they’re equally strong. Porto is a compact team, they’re tough, they know what they want. They’re one of the team who’ve won the most defensive duels. It will be a very taxing match from a physical point of view.
How are the injured players?
Manolas will recover, Olsen is still in doubt until tomorrow morning. We lost Schick because of a muscle injury. The others will not be back tomorrow: I’m talking about Perotti in particular.
Could you recover Perotti and Cengiz Ünder for Bologna?
Honestly, I’m only thinking about Porto — I don’t know who will be available, but Schick is unlikely to be one of them.
Will De Rossi’s return see him take Nzonzi’s place? Or can they play together?
I’m doing my evaluation but this is still in question. For me, they’re both first choice players and they’re important. If Daniele looks good in training then he’ll certainly player, we’ll see about the rest.
Can Zaniolo play on the right in a 4-3-3 or do you prefer him as a mezz’ala?
I do not know how I see him, but I could play him either on the right or as a midfielder. Kluivert or Florenzi could play there. It depends on me, I’m making assessments.
You supported and defended Kolarov: is it time to repair something that’s been broken?
I’d be happy if this small fracture was repaired because I feel as if I’m in the middle of it: I love the Roma supporters and I consider Alex like a brother. I can say to the fans that since they have always trusted me — that they continue to trust me when I say that he is a great professional. He always gives everything he has, he even plays in difficult conditions. There are few professionals like Alex, but then it must be said that the fan must be respected — I’d be pleased if this fracture was repaired.
What sort of Champions League are you expecting? Can last season’s run to the semi-final be an asset?
Experience is an asset but Porto are used to playing in these games as well. We’re not thinking about what’s happened in the past; we need to prepare well for tomorrow’s match.
What struck you about Roma while you were out?
Negatively — the results are not always brilliant and sometimes have not reflected the performance on the pitch, even though we played well. We noticed the fact that when we conceded a goal, we can’t get that out of our heads, but the performances lately have been positive.