Serie A, Monday, FEB 26, 18:30 CET
Stadio Olimpico
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    Fonseca names team for Juventus meeting

    Coach Paulo Fonseca faced questions from the media on Saturday afternoon, ahead of Sunday's big Serie A meeting against Juventus.

    The game against the reigning Serie A champions, the first game at the Stadio Olimpico of the new campaign, gets underway at 20:45 local time.

    The Portuguese boss sprung something of a surprise during the press conference - as he effectively announced his starting line-up more than 24 hours before the game.

    Here's what else Fonseca had to say - as he discussed Edin Dzeko's mindset, Rick Karsdorp's fitness, his approach coming up against the Bianconeri, and much more...

    Edin Dzeko could have been playing on Sunday for Juventus, if things had gone differently… have you spoken with him, does he seem motivated to get his season started?

    “I’ve spoken with Dzeko a few times, he’s very motivated. He’s trained well over the past few days. Tomorrow he will start.”

    Is Marash Kumbulla ready to start the game? Will it be a three-man defence again?

    “I know there will be lots of questions about the formation and who will start tomorrow.

    "If nothing happens between now and the start of the game tomorrow, then the team that starts the game will be: Antonio [Mirante], Santon, Mancini, Ibanez, Kumbulla, Spinazzola, Veretout, Pellegrini, Mkhitaryan, Pedro and Dzeko.”

    In Verona, during the course of the game, did you ask Dzeko to go on and he refused?

    “That's not true.”

    What was you assessment of Mkhitaryan as a false nine? Could he be an alternative to Dzeko on occasions?

    “I liked him as a No. 9. But when you have a striker like Dzeko, it doesn’t make much sense to use Micki as a 9. Of course it could happen sometimes when there is a need, but our centre forward is Dzeko.”

    You spoke a lot last season about it being ‘Year Zero’. Now we are at the start of the second year – at what point is the team?

    “We are better. If we can make a comparison between the first game of last season and this one, then it is clear that the team is better. That’s the important thing.”

    With just a few days left until the transfer window closes, how many players do Roma still need?

    “I am completely focused on tomorrow’s game – I don’t want to talk about the transfer market.”

    What has changed with Chris Smalling since the last press conference? Last time you were very optimistic that he would be joining in just a few days...

    “I’m just thinking about the game against Juventus. It is a tough game, it’s an important game. We have worked really hard ahead of this fixture. I have confidence in the players that will play tomorrow. We need to make sure we remain completely focused on the game against Juve.”

    Have you spoken with the new chairman? What are the targets for this season and does the squad have the talent to achieve them?

    “Since the first day they got here I have spoken every day with them. We are all working together to improve the team. The target is to do better than we did last season.”

    After his positive test result for Covid-19, Bruno Peres is back in training. What condition is he in now, and what about Rick Karsdorp?

    “Peres started training with us again only this week; he’s not ready to play. Karsdorp trained alone yesterday so he isn’t ready either.”

    In the first few minutes of Sampdoria’s game against Juventus last week we saw Ranieri’s side play very aggressively, pushing high to put pressure on Juventus and force them to go long rather than build from the back. Could that be key to putting Pirlo’s side under pressure?

    “I don’t want to tinker with our identity just because we are playing against Juventus. We want to be a side that presses and plays high up the pitch, but we have to make sure we retain our balance too.

    "Juventus are a very strong side. When we have the opportunity to press high, then we will do that. If they then bypass that pressure, we have to make sure we are organised and compact.”

    What will change in a midfield with Lorenzo Pellegrini next to Jordan Veretout?

    “With Pellegrini we can launch attacks a bit more quickly. We have an extra man playing close to the three forwards.”

    What sort of Juventus side are you expecting tomorrow? Have you noticed any differences already between Pirlo’s team and that of Maurizio Sarri?

    “Juventus have a new coach – a young coach, who clearly has a bright future. They are a more dynamic side, with different movements. I really liked their dynamic [last weekend]. They are a team that presses you hard, especially in the wider channels.”