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Rui Patricio: “A big performance with the help of our fans”

The day before Roma host Real Sociedad in the Europa League last 16, Rui Patricio fielded questions from the gathered media in Trigoria.

Read everything he had to say...

It's going to be a big European night tomorrow. What sort of match are you expecting at a packed Olimpico?

“It's definitely going to be a great European night in front of our fans. I hope the crowd can help us produce a big performance. Winning tomorrow would be massive and we're counting on our fans to help us do it, as they always have this season.

“I want to take this opportunity to thank them for their constant support. Hopefully tomorrow will be another big night.”

You've kept a lot of clean sheets this year. Have you seen improvements in defence compared to last season?

“We did the groundwork for it last season but of course we must keep improving. We must strive to reach our full potential as a team and as individuals. It's true that we're conceding fewer goals and that's thanks to our work as a team and the work of the coaching staff. We must keep improving because we have lots of targets this season.”

Despite your 13 clean sheets, you've come in for some criticism lately after some less than flawless performances. Does that make you angry or do you think your performances have been good enough?

“What matters to me is that I always work as hard as I can and give the best of myself. It's true that we've recorded quite a few clean sheets this season but at the end of the day it's winning that counts. Because if you don't concede but then you don't win either... that's not the idea. The idea is to not concede and win games.

“We must keep working the way we have been, putting 100% into every day. Criticism comes with the territory. The main thing is we don't let it distract us from our targets.”

How important is it for a goalkeeper with your experience to have a leader like Chris Smalling in front of you? Since you have another year left on your own contract, are you trying to convince him to stay?

“Smalling has shown lots of times what a leader and what a player he is. He's without doubt one of the pillars of the team. He's a fantastic player and he's important to me and to everyone else, including his fellow defenders. They're all doing well.

“As for his contract, it's not my place to comment on these matters but I only have good things to say about Smalling, on a personal level too. He deserves everything good that comes to him.”

The Olimpico has always been an important factor. What does it mean to you to have the Curva Sud behind you?

“We're very privileged to have the Curva's support – it really gets us up for the occasion. Playing at a packed stadium with the crowd driving you on makes everything easier.

"Tomorrow is a big match and I'm sure we can count on the support of our fans. Hopefully they'll play their part tomorrow because it's the first step on the path to our goals. We can do it.”