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Mourinho weighs up defensive choices as he expects tough Venezia test

Jose Mourinho held his customary pre-match press conference on Saturday afternoon.

Roma travel to Venezia on Sunday (kick-off: 12:30 CET) as they look to pick up an away win ahead of the next international break.

Here's what Mourinho had to say heading into the contest...

Can you confirm that Lorenzo Pellegrini is available for tomorrow, but Riccardo Calafiori will not be?

“If you know everything, why do you need to ask? Calafiori is injured and Pellegrini trained today. You already know everything.”

Are you content with the way Roma are playing right now? And, related to that, the forwards are all working hard but aren’t scoring – what’s your verdict on that?

“If you compare the number of goals scored and the chances we’ve created then there is a disparity there. There are teams that are far less active going forward, who don’t create much – but they are creating one opportunity and scoring one goal, or creating three and scoring two.

“Right now we are not struggling to create chances, but to turn those chances into goals. That’s true. However, I would be much more worried if we weren’t creating anything, if we weren’t able to dominate matches. In some games things could have gone differently and, if the day comes where we finish off all the chances we create, maybe we’ll have a really big win. But for now we need to be a bit patient and calm about it all.”

You talk often about young coaches, so what are your thoughts on Zanetti and Venezia?

“I don’t know him personally – we’ve played against each other a long time ago, when I was a coach and he was a player. I can see what they are doing as a team, and in that regard I think they play well, they want to play football and they have their principles. They want to build from the back, they create danger going forward – whether that is building themselves or hitting on the counter-attack.

“They have quality. It will definitely be a tough game for us.”

Given Riccardo Calafiori will be out, how are you thinking about arranging the defence? Were you happy with Bryan Cristante’s turn in defence in midweek, or could you turn to Marash Kumbulla?

“Well, those are the three options: Cristante, Kumbulla and Ibanez. Mancini will definitely play.

“Clearly Ibanez could play at centre-back. Matias Vina and Calafiori are both out, but perhaps I could decide to have Ibanez in the centre and Filippo Tripi could start on the left. He’s not a left-back either, but he’s tactically astute and has been working with us since pre-season – where he played a few games in that position.

“As for Cristante, yes I’m happy with him. He produced the performance we needed from him [in midweek]. He’s very good in the build-up; for a midfielder this can be even easier when you have a bit more time on the ball and a bit more space.

“He switched the play a number of times and did get into any difficulty, even if that was a game where we shouldn’t face too much difficulty really.

“So, anyway, those are our options. For those teams that have two top players in every position it’s easy: if Player A doesn’t play then Player B can come in. For a squad like ours, however, when these problems come up then we have to be adaptable. It can happen that a player has to slot into an unfamiliar position, and that you need to do a bit of extra work to fit the rest of the pieces of the puzzle.

“But, even without three left-backs – because there is also Leonardo Spinazzola – I am confident that we will find a system that allows us to put out a well-balanced side tomorrow.”

Do you think you will find it a bit easier to get in behind Venezia tomorrow? And as a result, could this be a good game for Tammy Abraham?

“I don’t know if it will be easier to get in behind them. They are a solid side, it’s hard for me to spot obvious weaknesses and I think they will stay up without too many problems this season.

“It’s not a question of what Tammy needs to do, though: it’s about all of us. The only three players to have scored a decent number of goals this season relative to their position are Ibanez, Pellegrini and El Shaarawy. The others all have the ability and the quality to score goals and I think their moment will come.

“For me, Tammy is the same player he was when he arrived – a player who did really well in the first five, six or seven games. He will be back on the scoresheet again soon, there’s nothing to worry about.”

Did Gonzalo Villar and Borja Mayoral give you the response you wanted in midweek? Could they now be useful options for you, allowing you to rest some other players?

“I was happy with both of them. Borja had two great assists; one for the second goal and another for an almost-goal. He provided good movement, extra quality – he didn’t have much time to impress but he came on and did well and helped change the attacking dynamics of the team.

“As for Gonzalo: the same as always. I liked what he did on the ball, I didn’t like what he did off it. Out of possession he needs to improve. But he is working hard on this. For Bodo’s second goal, you can see that he struggles a bit in certain situations when we don’t have the ball.

“But when he was on the ball in the second half the team did better. He has quality and he likes to set the rhythm for the attacking play. In the second half, with him and Jordan Veretout in the centre, the side created even more.”

 
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