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Radja: I've always preferred taking the tougher route


Radja Nainggolan faced the media on Tuesday to preview the Champions League semi-final meeting with Liverpool.

Wednesday's game at the Stadio Olimpico gets underway at 20:45 CEST, with the Giallorossi needing to overturn a three-goal deficit in order to progress.

Here's what the midfielder had to say at the pre-match press conference...

What was the main thing that didn’t go right for you at Anfield?

"They have some great attacking players and they were the difference in the first leg. We didn’t stay focused for the full 90 minutes. If you lose focus just for a second in games like this, you get punished. We need to give everything we have for all 95 minutes to try to turn the game around."

Does the fact that you’re in the Champions League semi-finals make you want to stay at Roma?

"Our run up until now in the Champions League has been wonderful – we hope we can keep going. I believe we can. I don’t want to speak about the future – right now we’re focused on achieving our objectives. I’d rather speak about the game than the future."

How difficult is the task facing you tomorrow?

"We all know it’s going to be difficult – but it was against Barcelona too and we managed it then. We have to believe that we can do it. It’ll be even harder than it was against Barcelona because Liverpool are a stronger side physically. The only thing we can do is try to score three goals and attempt to give as little away as possible to Liverpool."

Despite the 4-1 defeat to Barcelona, you said that you didn’t think there was much of a difference between the two sides. Do you have the same impression of the first leg at Liverpool?

"In my eyes Liverpool were just more consistent than we were. We didn’t well at times during the game, but we weren’t able to maintain that over the course of the 90 minutes. We were more consistent at Barcelona and so the result didn’t tell the whole story. We managed to get two goals towards the end and that gives us hope for tomorrow. We cannot make the same mistakes we did last week and we know that."

You’ve scored less than you did last season but chipped in with more assists. Do you like your new position? You’ve not scored in the Champions League yet – is this your time?

"I’m definitely the kind of player who doesn’t live for goals. It’s nice to score but the most important thing is the final result. If I’ve got more assists it means I’ve made other players happy. Everything is very different to last year, the playing philosophy included, but I’m just focusing on giving my all. We’ll see tomorrow whether I can score in the Champions League, but in any case it won’t be my last year."


You seemed to be the player with the clearest head at Anfield. What do you think happened to the rest of the team?

"I don’t know – perhaps it was a bit overwhelming with it being our first semi-final. We started well but then we conceded and went 2-0 down before half time. I can’t say what the other players were thinking, but I think that we’re all aware of the mistakes we made in the first leg. We need to improve across the board and turn in a better performance across the full 90 minutes."

Fans from all over Italy – Lazio supporters excluded – cheered Roma on against Barcelona. How nice was that to see?

"I don’t think it was even the fact that we’re an Italian team. When a team pulls off an incredible feat like that, I think the world looks at you in a different light. We need that sportsmanship between Italian clubs – it’s nice and we feel we have a responsibility. We know it’s going to be tough but if we manage it I’m sure there’ll be lots of plaudits. If we don’t manage it, we’ll have had a good run anyway."

Does this semi-final mean you’re definitely staying at Roma?

“I didn’t stay here because I knew we’d get to the Champions League semi-final, but because I feel that winning here would be unforgettable. That’s the way I am – I always prefer to go for the tougher route. I’ll be here for years to come. I don’t like the idea of leaving a place where I’m happy – that’s just the way I am."