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De Rossi: We need to start again, with the right attitude

Roma captain Daniele De Rossi believes the team will know better than to underestimate their opponents in this season's Champions League - having caused a few shocks themselves last season.

The Giallorossi were picked against Real Madrid, CSKA Moscow and Viktoria Plzen in Friday's Champions League group stage draw; perhaps a kind draw on paper, but not one that De Rossi is taking lightly.

The midfielder remembers Roma being written off at this stage last season and, with the level of quality in the competition at an all-time high, is not taking anything for granted.

“It’s always great to be part of this draw, always an honour," De Rossi told Roma TV. "It’s a balanced group, I think; there’s one of the best club in the world, a team that has shown in recent years that it is one of the best in the history of the game.

"And then there are two other clubs that, yes, people might know a little less well but they definitely have the ability to cause problems. We will have to deal with the cold, so we’ll have to see also how the calendar comes out – when we have to play in Moscow, for example, or when we play in the Czech Republic. Because certainly the weather could have an effect too. But I think it’s a group that we have to believe we can get through.”

He added: “To play in a stadium like Madrid’s, against an opponent of that quality, will be another great experience. It’ll be a great game. We are two of the four most recent semi-finalists in the competition so, while we know they will be favourites, we have to be confident and play our game.

"But we cannot forget about the other two sides: I always think in the Champions League group stage it’s a mistake to make any predictions.“

Having been drawn out of Pots 1 and 2, Real Madrid and Roma will be the favourites among many fans to progress to the knockout stages - but De Rossi cautioned against that sort of arrogance.

“If you are a coach or a director of CSKA or Plzen, then you are taking us as an example – because last season we were with Atletico Madrid and Chelsea, and no-one gave us a chance," De Rossi pointed out. 

"After the draw we were written off. But it did not end up like that. So we are an example for them. Last season we faced Qarabag, who no-one knew much about, and then they drew twice with Atletico Madrid. We beat Qarabag, but with a lot of difficulty both away and at home.

"Those games aren’t like 15 or 20 years ago, when you knew you were going to take all three points. We have to play the games; yes, we might have been in the second pot but in the end we have to deliver on the pitch.”

Roma will go into the competition full of confidence after last season's semi-final run, but De Rossi believes forgetting those exploits as much as possible could be key to the side's performances.

“The semi-finals were six months ago now, we have to start again," he said. "They are great memories, we did something amazing – some of the guys aren’t here anymore but we cannot just try and continue from where we left off anyway. That would be a big mistake.

"We have to start again with humility, the same humility we showed when we drew that tough group with Chelsea and Atletico Madrid – but also the same conviction that we can get through. Especially against CSKA and Plzen, if we go out there thinking we have already won we will quickly find ourselves in big trouble.”

 
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