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    Fonseca: Fiorentina have plenty of quality

    As usual, Paulo Fonseca faced questions from the media on Saturday - to preview Sunday's Serie A meeting with Fiorentina.

    The game at the Stadio Olimpico gets underway at 18:00 CET.

    Here's what the Portuguese coach had to say ahead of the game...

    Is Chris Smalling capable of playing two games in just four days?

    “He didn’t play the full game against CSKA Sofia, he came off after an hour, so we’ll see tomorrow.”

    The title race this season hasn’t become clear yet – can Roma take advantage of that to get involved?

    “As I’ve always said, in my opinion Inter Milan and Juventus are the two main candidates. And I don’t think that right now the betting favourites have really changed. Roma want to do better than last season, but we have to take things game-by-game.”

    In your three-man defence, so far this season you’ve used multiple players in the central position of the trio. Is that based on each opponent, or is that the role Smalling will now take?

    “I will decide things on a game-by-game basis. I’ve already decided the three defenders who will play tomorrow. Beyond that, we will see each game.”

    Will Carles Perez be available tomorrow?

    “Today he trained on his own, but I think he’ll be ready for tomorrow.”

    How is it possible that players like Pedro, Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Franck Ribery can be so decisive in Italy, after struggling in other leagues previously?

    “In Italy you don’t look at the age of a player, you just see the quality. That’s a really positive thing. In other countries, when players turn 30 people start to say that they are old. It’s important not to look at the age, but the quality and physical fitness of the player.”

    In what ways do you expect the side to keep improving? And which players need to improve too?

    “All of us need to improve. The team is never a finished product. We need to keeping working hard each and every day to improve. We have a lot of areas that we can work on.”

    After Thursday’s game you said that the team is in better shape than last season. Can you expand a bit on where the team has improved?

    “We have another year of work behind us now. The team is more organised, they have a better idea of what I want fro them, they have more confidence. It’s normal that a team that has been together for longer will be better. It’s clear to all of us, we are a different side now.”

    You have said that the team is ready to play in either a three-man defence or a four-man defence. What might make you switch to four-man defences then – considering so far you have only done that against Benevento?

    “It depends on a lot of different aspects. It depends on the opposition, it depends on what we want to try and do – but we can play with both those formations.”

    Is Gonzalo Villar ready to start games in Serie A too?

    “All my players are ready to start games.”

    You said again after Thursday’s game that the club needs a sporting director. What does it mean for the club not to have had one for a period of time now?

    “I talked about that because you asked me the question, but I don’t wish to talk about that any more.”

    What sort of game are you expecting against Fiorentina?

    “They have a great squad. They have signed a lot of quality players, with a lot of Serie A experience too. They have a number of different options, they play good football – so it will be a tough game against a great side. They have a side that, in my opinion, is a strong contender to finish in the top six or seven.”

    Roma now seem to keep the ball less these days, they seem to be a more direct side. Is that a choice?

    “It depends on the games, but it’s a good thing that we can be more direct. With players like Leonardo Spinazzola, Pedro, Henrikh Mkhitaryan, it’s important that we know how to break quickly into the area and play as directly as possible on occasions. We’ve really improved in that regard and that’s important for us.”