Coach Paulo Fonseca held his customary pre-match press conference on Saturday afternoon, ahead of the home game against Genoa.
Sunday's match at the Stadio Olimpico gets underway at 12:30 CET.
Here's everything the boss had to say...
Borja Mayoral has not scored in the last five Serie A games. Do you expect more from him? Would you advise the club to sign him on a permanent basis?
“Borja is a young player who is playing really well. It’s true that he has not scored in the last few games in the league, but he did score in both of the [Europa League] matches against Braga. And I think he works really hard for the team. He creates space, he opens up options for the other players. In that regard he really knows what he needs to be doing.
"If you look at Mayoral’s numbers, especially in relation to how many minutes he has played, then they are clearly interesting. The board will decide what to do, Tiago [Pinto] knows what I think.”
Who is more ready to play out of Stephan El Shaarawy and Pedro?
“Both of them are ready to play. El Shaarawy has done well when he’s played, Pedro did well recently when he came on and I was pleased to see that.”
You have talked a lot recently about identity and strategy. Will the strategy change now, with the absence of Jordan Veretout?
“Veretout has been important for us this season, especially going forward. In each game we have a strategy. We have different options to replace Veretout; [Gonzalo] Villar, [Lorenzo] Pellegrini and even [Henrikh] Mkhitaryan can do it. And that can be done without changing what we want to achieve in this game. Tomorrow I will make the decision I think is best for the team.”
Will Pedro start tomorrow?
“Yes, he will start the game.”
In the last meeting between these sides Roma won thanks to a hat-trick from Henrikh Mkhitaryan, who played as a false nine. Could you repeat that move this time? And how is it possible he has not scored or provided an assist in any of the last seven games?
“Yes, that is one option – and when he has played there he has done well. He may not have scored recently but the team has still been creating lots of chances and scoring goals. So that’s not an issue for me – Micki has been doing well. For me the main thing is that we score goals, not who scores them.”
Have you not considered changing your approach to sit deeper and try and draw opponents out?
“We have done that in a few different games. In some of the games, where they don’t press us high up the pitch. It varies based on the strategy for each game. But I don’t think Genoa will sit deep like Benevento did. I expect them to press us up the pitch, they will want to win the ball back before we can get going. I don’t think it will be a similar game to the one against Benevento.”
Do you think there are too many matches these days? Do you have any solution for that?
“The solution is to have fewer games. When I was at a UEFA meeting it was one of the things coaches talked about most. A lot of them said the same thing. There are too many games and so it’s natural that there are a lot of injuries. But it is a problem that a lot of teams are dealing with – even the big ones.
“In my opinion it is a major issue. There needs to be fewer games, perhaps fewer competitions, perhaps fewer international games. Physically speaking it’s not fair on the players.”
How is Leonardo Spinazzola doing? Does he perhaps need a rest?
“He’s been playing a lot, he’s a player with great energy and his role demands that from him every time. But right now we have three full-backs ready to play and we have to manage them accordingly. If I need Spinazzola to play, we have to play him. We can’t think about future games.”
Where do you think this Roma side have improved most from last season?
“In almost all of them. We are much better in almost all areas. Only the statistics for goals conceded are worse – and I don’t think that means we are defending worse, those are just one number.”
Do you think this could be a repeat of the game against Benevento – struggling to break a defensive side down?
“As a side, I don’t think Genoa sit deep. From what I have seen they are a side that press high up the pitch. I don’t think it will be a similar game [to the one against Benevento] tomorrow.
"Beyond that, I want to say one thing. The game against Benevento was really important for us. We watched it, we talked about it, we worked on it. And, for example, in the game against Fiorentina there were a lot of similar moments where we had to play like that and we created chances. The players know what they need to do better when playing against sides that like to sit deep. So if that does happen tomorrow, then the side will have a better understanding of how to approach things. It won’t be easy, obviously. Nothing is ever easy. But they will be more prepared.”
How is Chris Smalling?
“He’s fit and will start tomorrow.”
With new coach Davide Ballardini, Genoa don’t concede many goals any more. How have they done that?
“I think it will be a really tough game. Genoa have picked up great results with this coach, they are a really strong side. So it will be tough. They are really good in the first build-up phase.”