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Di Francesco: Squad have returned with the right attitude

Read what coach Eusebio Di Francesco had to say in the wake of Monday's 4-0 Coppa Italia victory over Virtus Entella.

The Giallorossi moved on to the quarter-finals of the competition, thanks to a brace from Patrik Schick (including the first after just 23 seconds) and goals from both Ivan Marcano and Javier Pastore.

Primavera midfielder Alessio Riccardi also made his debut for his boyhood club as a late substitute.

What pleased you most about this game? Was it the team's approach?

“Yes, our approach was good, although there was a 15-minute spell in the first half that I wasn't very happy with. Our passing was a bit sloppy and we afforded them a few too many counter-attacks. We knew they could play long ball and we should have been a bit quicker at reading it. I was very happy with our second-half performance – the way we kept the ball and our consistency.

“I was also pleased to see a number of players come through the whole game and give a very good account of themselves. El Flaco [Javier Pastore] and [Rick] Karsdorp have been training really well lately and they came through the game well – that shows they were on the right programme. The downside is there are always these chance injuries which mean we're unable to have certain players available regularly.”

Pastore is an exceptionally talented player. Why has he not been able to show it yet?

“His time at Roma has followed a slightly strange path. He started off well and scored some great goals after joining from a club where he wasn't playing much. Then he was beset by a series of issues – injuries that meant he wasn't able to train regularly or play several games in a row. I'm happy with his performance today. He's not a sprinter; he's a quality player who's able to keep on the move. He's a very handy player to have because of what he offers in possession. We need him and we're working to get him back to his best. There are no other players in this squad with the same skill set – that ability he has to pick a pass in the final third. He's an important player for us and we'll try to get him playing more regularly. Games like tonight are important for him.”

Where does the Coppa Italia fit in your priorities this season?

“Our primary objective is to try and secure a top-four finish in Serie A because playing in the Champions League is crucial for our targets but we're obviously involved in two other important competitions. One is the Champions League itself, where had a very good campaign last term – something people tend to forget quite easily. Then there's the Coppa Italia, which should also be considered a prestigious trophy. We want to do well in every competition. The team is improving and trying to perform well more consistently and I'm pleased with that.”

How far along is Karsdorp?

“He's got great ability but he needs to improve the defensive side of his game. He's had to deal with knee injuries too so hasn't had much consistency. He's shown his technical and physical ability. His decision-making is good and he showed a couple of bursts of pace today. I like full-backs like him who can play good football.”

How has the team looked since coming back from the winter break?

“They've looked good in training and they've been working well. They played with confidence today and wanted to enjoy themselves – that's important. They've come back keen to make a strong start and that's a good sign. I'm very happy with the way they've approached training and this match.”

 
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