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'Proud' Fonseca eager to give fans derby victory

Coach Paulo Fonseca faced the media on Friday afternoon to preview Saturday's eagerly-anticipated Derby della Capitale against Lazio.

The game at the Stadio Olimpico gets underway at 20:45 CEST.

Here's what Fonseca had to say heading into the game...

More issues against Inter Milan on Wednesday. Why do you think this group has never really managed to resolve its defensive problems this season?

“We know how Inter like to play. We didn’t want to defend too deep – we wanted to take the initiative, and I think we largely did that. In the second half we played really well, we created chances to score. But we had to take a few risks to do that. They are clinical on the counter-attack. We made mistakes in dealing with that, we didn’t switch on and ensure our covering marking was correct. We let them play through Lukaku and that caused problems. But overall they did not create too much.

“But that seems to be the issue with our side. We don’t let the opposition create lots of chances, but when we do make mistakes the other sides punish us. We’ve played with two approaches this season and [the one we used on Wednesday] is more risky, but we need to be able to react defensively regardless.”

Will you face Lazio with a different setup compared to the first meeting this season?

“We have prepared tactically for this game in a different way to the last meeting. In that game we pressed them high up the pitch, but as a result the team was not particularly well balanced. As a result they were able to hit us on the counter-attack with regularity.

"We have prepared for this game looking at ways we can stop them counter-attacking like that. They are dangerous when they go forward with Immobile, Correa, Luis Alberto, Milinkovic-Savic and their full-backs. We need to pay attention to that.”

Will we see a more defensive Roma side then?

“As I said, we have a tactical approach for this game. We want to strike the right balance in all phases of the game, being aware of what their strengths are.”

Roma will finish behind Lazio for the second season in a row, something which hasn’t happened for a while. Why is that, do you think?

“It’s been a difficult season, with a few injuries to some important players. As I’ve said a few times, if we had those players available to us throughout the season then I think we would have finished in a different position.”

It will be your last game at the Olimpico. Will you be leaving with a few regrets? Are there some things you would have done differently?

“I leave with a great sense of pride, to have been the coach of Roma for two years. I don’t have regrets. I had the respect of everyone, the support and backing of the fans – for me it was important to have that feeling.”

During Wednesday’s game in Milan a few players seemed to make individual mistakes once again. Is that your fault, for not being able to transmit the right intensity to the players, or do the players have to take responsibility themselves?

“When we win or when we don’t win I always ask lots of questions of all my players. I am always the first one who is responsible for what happens to the side. I always look for answers in order to try not to repeat the same errors again. I am well aware that I am the first one responsible.”

Will you go back to a three-man defence for this game?

“No, we will play with four in defence again.”

What has gone wrong defensively this season?

“It’s not just an issue with the defence, but the team as a whole. Beyond that, not having Chris Smalling – our most experienced defender - throughout the season has been a big factor. Because as a result we have played a lot more with some very young players which I think has been a decisive factor in the defensive performances. There have been a lot of individual mistakes and a lot of goals conceded, more than perhaps there should have been based on what other sides have created.”

Is the team mature enough to approach the derby in the right way?

“Lazio will play the same way they always play. They will always be looking for the counter-attack, they will always be looking to move the ball forward quickly. I’m expecting the same from them again tomorrow. We have prepared for this game to try not to allow those opportunities to Lazio.”

The 4-2-3-1 system is back. Why now? Could you have perhaps gone back to it sooner?

“I have always said that we had two setups for this squad. The choice depended a lot on the response of the team, and it depended on the moment we were in as well. We changed it for the match against Manchester United and the team responded well to that. Changes like that can be good for the team too – to give them a different stimulation, to create new dynamics on the pitch. For that reason it doesn’t make sense to change it again right now.”

What will this derby be like for you, especially compared to the first one you experienced?

“The motivation [to win] is the same. Having – or not having – the fans there changes things a lot. Experiencing this derby is something unique, it’s hard to explain.

"We will not have the fans behind us tomorrow, which is important for us, but we want to be just as motivated to win nonetheless. We know that this is a really important game for all of us. I expect the players will be motivated to win.”

How is the group doing coming into this game?

“They are doing well. Obviously we have not had a lot of time for players to rest and recover, but the squad is motivated and ready – as they should be for a game like this. We want to give our all to get the win.”

 
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