Find out what the midfielder had to say...
Roma didn't get the rub of the green in the first leg but played well. Will you take confidence from that game into this one?
“Definitely. We know we played very well, even though we didn't get a good result. We must carry on like that and play even better so that we can win the game.”
Every summer it seems you're going to slip down the pecking order but then you end up playing more than anyone else. Why is it that you seem irreplaceable?
“It's the same question as always. I play hard and give everything I have, always. If coaches like me, they pick me. I just try to do my bit for the team. And I do what I have to do.”
How are you feeling?
Are you ready to play?
Why do you think more big-name players are choosing to join Roma now compared to when you first arrived?
“First of all, there's great club behind us. The new owners helped sort out …”
Was that not the case before?
“Before there was a period of transition. It was a different period. I joined almost at the end of the [Jim] Pallotta era. There was a transition spell in which we knew the club would be sold and then the Friedkins came in. They're building a strong club. It takes time but they're doing a great job. They've brought in a superb coach, one of the best in Europe. I think everything together has helped the club's development.”
You're a veteran now, having been here five or six years. What's changed at team level? From the outside, there seems to be more unity. Is there a secret?
“Firstly, I think there are a few of us who have stayed at Roma for a few years running. The more players you have playing together over several seasons, the more you bond as a group. Those who have been here for longer have done a good job of welcoming everyone in.”
Do you think this team is better in one-off matches than going the distance? If so, why?
“I don't think so. I think it's more to do with the numbers, the squad. We've often reached the end of the season with lots of injuries and not had a huge squad. When you get to the end and every match is decisive in the league and the cup, maybe subconsciously you give a bit more in some games and a bit less in others. Right now we have everyone and few injury problems and we're managing to perform consistently in both competitions.”
There was a time at the start of the season when you and Nemanja Matic were playing together in the middle and you struggled to cover the entire width of the pitch when you didn't have the ball. After that there was a significant improvement. What changed?
“As I said before, the more you play together, the better your understanding and the more things come automatically. It becomes more simple and you know your team-mate better. It's partly to do with the number of games you play together – that's helped the whole team play with greater ease.”
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