This is what the Giallorosse skipper had to say...
How are you doing fitness-wise? Will you be ok to play?
“I picked up an injury in the Coppa Italia and we've done everything possible. We'll see how it is. The staff have been amazing but we'll see today whether or not I can make it.”
Do you think games like this could become a regular occurrence for Roma?
“It's a dream come true for us to be here. We didn't expect to reach the quarter-finals; we just hoped to do well in the group stage. This year has taught us that we can come this far, that we can have our say, and that we want to do it again in future.”
As the captain, as a Roman and as a Romanista, do you feel you can make a promise to the fans who will be at the stadium?
“I know we're up to 35,000 now, which is a huge figure and it shows we're caught their interest. Finally we've succeeded in getting the fans behind us and bringing lots of them to the Olimpico. It's a wonderful feeling after five years. What I can promise is that we'll give our all against one of the best teams in Europe. We'll leave everything on the pitch. That's all I can promise.”
How much pressure is there on you for this game? How do you feel?
“We went to Glasgow knowing we could be knocked out. That was quite a feeling. We realised how good we were when we best Paris on penalties. That was a really difficult game as they were a great team too. Our journey took a turn there and we've kept on taking turns. Every obstacle was different but we kept moving forward one step at a time, overcoming all the obstacles. We never looked further ahead, only focused on the present.
“Tomorrow we'll be playing at the Olimpico, which was an enormous dream we had. The feeling is incredible. I hope to make it but I just don't know. Fingers crossed. We must enjoy all the feelings tomorrow – that's what I said to the girls. We have to enjoy ourselves and be calm. We're playing Barcelona, one of the best sides out there, and that's what we're in it for. We train to go up against the best. What more could you wish for as a footballer than to play in games like this? We have nothing to lose and everything to gain. The Champions League is an experience and a dream. We mustn't feel the pressure; we have to feel calm about it.”
Does anyone in the dressing room think you could reach the next round? You're a pretty fearsome proposition for opponents yourselves...
“I always say nothing is impossible. There's always hope, otherwise there would no point even trying. Just as we did against Wolfsburg, we'll set out to play our game and bring our quality to the fore. It depends on the opposition as well. Of course we want to get a result. Of course we want to show how well we can play. Especially as we're playing in front of 35,000 people. But we also need to accept that we won't be able to play the same way we have up to now. We might have to change something and be smart. We may not have 70% possession as we do in the league. We have to be realistic. Above all we have to be intelligent – that could be the key to springing a surprise and doing the unthinkable. The desire to win is certainly there. Otherwise we'd just go to the beach instead of turning up for the game.”
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