Roma sporting director Monchi spoke to Marca today ahead of the Giallorossi’s Champions League clash with Real Madrid. These are his words:
Much has happened since Real Madrid were 3-0 runaway winners against Roma.
In terms of motivation, Roma are going into this game at 100%. Last year was magnificent and there have been many changes this year and we’ve had to go through a process of transition to find our ideal team. Now we are closer to where we want to be. The squad know each other better and we are getting to a good level.
Which of the injured players for Roma will return?
Kolarov is fine and Manolas will return. De Rossi and Perotti won’t be available.
So, what do you expect from tomorrow’s match?
A totally different one to the [Estadio Santiago] Bernabeu, for us not to suffer as much and that we see the Roma of the last year and a half in the Champions League and at home. A team that dominates with a winning mentality. I would like to see an ambitious team that confronts Real Madrid head on.
Does it surprise you how far they’ve fallen since that exhibition earlier in the year?
Yes. And it’s something that we’ve spoken about internally in the dressing room. They have also had problems with injuries, but it [the drop in form] wasn’t expected. Against Roma, Madrid looked very complete. They are favourites in any competition that they’re in.
How do you see Madrid now?
They have recovered their calmness, and important players who were injured. I see a calmer team, less confused than in the previous games. They have an abundance of quality and they just need to find their way.
However, they were left red in the face after what happened at Eibar [3-0 defeat].
Madrid are used to overcoming difficult situations. The big teams are what they are because they know how to get themselves back up quickly.
Do you still think they’re favourites for the Champions League title?
Madrid are always favourites in any competition. They are on everyone’s betting slip.
And Roma, can they get to the semi-finals again?
First, we are going to get on with the group stage. After, clubs that want to be big don’t put a ceiling or objectives over them. Once you reach your highest level, you can get to wherever you want.
Who do you think is Real Madrid’s most dangerous player right now?
It could be [Karim] Benzema. He has got his confidence back and is taking risks. I even read that he wants to be the replacement for Cristiano [Ronaldo]. But, any Madrid player can be decisive.
If you could sign one player for Roma who would it be?
It’s difficult [to say]. I can’t say one because I would be leaving out at least two or three that I liked.
Asensio is being questioned. Do you like him as a player?
He’s a player with quality and a tremendous shot, but players aren’t machines.
Roma signed 11 new faces this summer. An ambitious project that combines experience and youth.
Because of the organisation, the fans, being the capital of Italy, the intention is to have a winning, triumphant project. All processes need to take some steps and last year we took some important ones. You always need time. We have one of the youngest squads in Italy and the Champions League, thinking in the present and the future. We have 17 internationals: Italy, Czech Republic, Sweden, France, Serbia, Holland… It’s a project that needs time to simmer away.
One more. It’s inevitable. What would you say about Cristiano in Italy?
It was necessary for him to have some time to adapt too and now you are seeing Cristiano. A decisive player, he is happy and completely committed to Juventus. It’s the same Cristiano, but in a different shirt.