Fonseca ahead of Europa League showdown versus Shakhtar: “I know them well, this is going to be difficult.”


Roma manager Paulo Fonseca faced the media today as his team prepares to host Shakhtar Donetsk tomorrow evening at the Stadio Olimpico.

The Giallorossi face the Ukrainian side in the Italian capital for the first of their two Europa League ties. It’s the first time that the two clubs have met since 2018 in the Champions League.

It will also be particular matchup for Roma boss Paulo Fonseca, who faces another of his former clubs for the second round in a row. Before joining Roma in the summer of 2019, the Portuguese tactician managed Shakhatar Donetsk for three seasons beginning 2016.

“I’m certain this is going to be a difficult match,” started Fonseca. “I don’t like to face my former teams. I would have preferred to avoid both Braga and Shakhtar.”

“They’re are a very good team. Shakhtar defeated Real Madrid twice and also drew against Inter twice – they always seem to do well in Europe. It’s true that I know the club and team well, it’s a strong team. They defend compactly and present a huge threat on the counterattack.”

The Portuguese tactician was handed a boost this week as both Edin Dzeko and Roger Ibañez returned from injury and will be called-up for tomorrow’s affair.

“Dzeko trained with the team today and will be available tomorrow. It’s the same for Ibañez – he trained with the group for the past two days. We’ll see tomorrow who plays in midfield and defence – it’s possible that we could use Mancini-Smalling-Kumbulla, but Cristante could also feature.”

“I think that we’ve improved defensively as a team. I’m not strictly talking about our backline, but our defending as a whole team. We understand that we can’t continue to make mistakes that lead to goals. We need to keep on being careful with the ball and not handing it over to the opponent.”

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