Here's what he had to say...
You've been somewhat held back by injuries this season. Do you think you still have the strength to turn things around?
“I have to be honest and say that it's partly been my fault. Because you can always do better. Regardless of any problems I might have had during the season, when we take to the pitch we're all the same. I don't like hiding behind excuses, like not having trained or not being 100% fit. I'm obviously not over the moon about my performances this year because I know that I can and must do much better.
“The only thing I can be happy about is my level of commitment and the fact that I've always put myself on the line for my team-mates, the staff, everyone who works with us, the club and the fans.”
Do you get the impression that, unlike last season, the criticism of you is harsher this season?
“I know that being in an important position in passionate city like Rome comes with big responsibility. That's never been a problem for me, also because I'm the first person to admit that I'd have liked to produce different numbers by this stage of the season. However, as I said, I can't say I wish I'd been more committed because I've always given 120% and no matter what difficulties I've had I've always put the team and my team-mates first. I'm proud of this team, I'm proud of my team-mates and I'm proud to be captain. The season isn't over either. I hope to do better than I have so far in the final part of the season."
How are you now? And a tactical question: Has the arrival of a star player like Paulo Dybala changed your own role as a trequartista? Are there only positives or are there things you need to work on?
“Everything's fine with me. It was basically just a cut and the stitches. We ran tests and everything was ok. I feel fine.
“As for the second question, I don't think we can call it a tactical problem because having Paulo on your team can only be a good thing. Having a player who can put the ball anywhere he wants it at anytime is a huge plus. As I said, I wanted to have done more by this stage but there's time left for me to make up for it.”
What impressed you most about Real Sociedad in the first leg and what will you be wary of tomorrow? Are there any players in particular you're more concerned about?
“I think they're a great team as they showed in the first game. They're very good in possession: they keep the ball moving and look for spaces between the lines. We may have won the first leg 2-0 but it wasn't without difficulties – that's the truth. It's a good thing that we're coming here with a two-goal lead but we mustn't for that reason give anything less than 100% commitment and focus because I'm sure this will be a very difficult match.
“Their coach spoke about a big storm but I think it will be a big battle and I'm not afraid. When we're solid physically and mentally, I can trust my team blindly. In case anyone hadn't realised yet, we should expect a massive battle. We'll need everyone to give their all if we're to reach the quarter-finals.”
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