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Di Francesco: We can't afford to go backwards against Bologna

Read everything the coach had to say ahead of Monday's game against Bologna at the Stadio Olimpico...

The match gets underway at 20:30 local time.

Di Francesco gave an update on the fitness of his squad, while discussing the race for the top four in Serie A and his tactical thoughts in recent weeks.

Does the Porto result give you belief? Or are you just tired after the effort?

“We gave a lot both physically and mentally, but the team showed better balance – including when we had to dig in. We need to build on that and show the same team mentality tomorrow.”

How much have Roma changed since the difficult reverse fixture against Bologna?

“We’ve had our ups and downs this year – now it’s about making as few mistakes as possible. It’s not a good memory but we need to use it to make sure we don’t go backwards. This is a new Bologna side, with a new coach, and they have a different way of working.”

Will Nicolo Zaniolo play on the right wing again? How is he dealing with the hype?

“I certainly have to consider him for that position. I don’t have many forwards available. [Stephan] El Shaarawy is a doubt after picking up a knock yesterday, so we’ll have to look at him. Cengiz [Under] and Patrik [Schick] are both out, so we only have four forwards available and that means that Zaniolo could play in that position again tomorrow.

"On a general note I’d like to appeal to you to allow him to live in peace – he’s 19 years old and he shouldn't have too much pressure or responsibility. He’s got to develop. The No.22 jersey is right for him now – the fans should see him as a player with great potential that still has a lot to prove.”

How will you manage Daniele De Rossi over the coming weeks?

“It’s a day-to-day issue. He trained separately yesterday but that was planned. He’ll train with the team today and he could be involved tomorrow, but I’ll make the call based on how the squad is and the run-in from now until the end of the season.”

Has Steven Nzonzi become quite a disposable player? How is Justin Kluivert doing at the moment?

“Generally speaking, you can do without players based on their physical condition. I wouldn’t make it a case of starters and substitutes. It’s good to have lots of players available so that there’s competition. I like it when the players are always desperate to prove themselves.

"Kluivert has come from a different league and highs and lows are part of the process of growth. Sometimes he gives too much importance to what he hears about himself and on social media, for example. The most important things to listen to are said here at Trigoria and mainly by the coach. Justin is training really well right now – he’s focused. He’s changed the way he goes about his training and that’s a positive.”

Roma have seemed more solid at the back recently. Is that down to the change in system, the return of De Rossi or the fact that the side is playing deeper?

“We’re not playing deeper. The important thing is being able to choose when to drop off and keep the team compact. We’re getting less stretched – the three-man midfield gives us a bit of cover through the lines in the middle of the pitch. The playing system could change.

"In the past we said that the 4-2-3-1 formation was better for us, but the important thing is to have the right mentality and defend as a team. All of these things start with the head and require hard work.”

Will Juan Jesus start in central defence? Or are you considering him for the left-back role?

“I think [Ivan] Marcano is a better fit at left-back than him, if I had to use one of them there. I see Juan as more of a centre-back, but I’ve not made my mind up yet at the back. Marcano is improving well too. I’m happy with the way the whole squad is training, but I can only pick 11 players.”

You’re short in attack. Could Alessandro Florenzi play in an advanced position with Davide Santon at full-back?

“I’m not considering that for this game at this point. Right now, for the 4-3-3 formation I’m looking for different players in certain positions. I could change my mind in other games.”

AC Milan won away at Atalanta yesterday. What do Roma need to finish fourth?

“Results. AC Milan are finding some real consistency and they’ve signed a player who is scoring every time he touches the ball at the moment. They’ve always been compact and they were again yesterday against a side who were in incredible form when we came up against them.

"We had a very good first half against Atalanta, but then we lacked consistency. AC Milan are one of the teams to beat in the race for fourth or third. [Krzysztof] Piatek and Lucas [Paqueta] have breathed new life into the team.”

 
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