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    Mancini: “We must battle for every ball and turn this tie around”

    Gianluca Mancini took questions from the media ahead of Roma's Europa League play-off return leg against Salzburg.

    This is what he had to say...

    What sort of game are you expecting?

    “A battle, like the first leg. We must fight for every ball and go the extra yard. We have to try and score an early goal and get everyone behind us so that we can win and progress to the next round."

    If Roma do go through, will it be seen as an achievement or just par for the course?

    “Tomorrow is an important game. We're playing in the Europa League and qualification is on the line. If we win, we'll focus on the next game. Obviously we're not going to paint the town red and yellow if we reach the last 16 but it is an important game because we want to keep going in the Europa League."

    This year Roma have been stronger in defence and your own performances have improved. You seem to control yourself better too – is that something you've worked on?

    “At the end of last season I took a long hard look at myself and I saw all the yellow cards I'd picked up and all the games I missed as a result. I've worked on myself and tried to limit the number of times I find myself in that situation so that I can play more regularly and not have to miss matches. Looking back at some of the games from last season, I got up some stupid yellow cards that I really could have avoided. I've tried to be better in that regard and the boss has helped me understand certain situations. I've worked on not getting those bookings.

    “I think it's normal to have some ups and downs over the course of a season. It happened last year and it's happening again now. Obviously your own performances depend partly on how the team plays, on the games we have and the training we do. We've been working together for a year and a half and we're honing our understanding. Lots of factors have to come together to help you perform at your best and you're always going to get highs and lows – all footballers have them. You have to maintain your focus and keep giving your all.”

    The three of you in defence – yourself, [Roger] Ibanez and [Chris] Smalling – are like a single entity, a family. What sort of relationship do you have with your fellow centre-backs? Do you expect to be playing with Smalling again next season?

    “We're all part of the family – and I'm not just saying that. The dressing room atmosphere is incredible. We all really care about each other. We all have the same goal and we work hard day in day out to reach our full potential. The three of us have played together a lot but we have Marash Kumbulla too – he's a smashing lad who gives everything in training and is always ready when he's called upon. Now Diego Llorente has joined and he's brought his experience. He's part of our family of defenders.

    “When you spend so much time playing together, you understand each other better – and it only takes a glance. You understand your team-mates' strengths and weaknesses and you work on them so that you can perform even better together. But as I've said many times before, it's not only down to us defenders if we're defending well – the whole team put in the hard yards, starting with the forwards. That's what makes us solid and strong. As for playing with Smalling next season, I think so and I hope so.”

    The coach mentioned a few boos from the crowd and said that some sections of the stadium seem a little passive. Is that something you sense as players? Do the boos bother you?

    “I think the coach was talking about the last match when he said that Edoardo Bove is a young lad playing his first few games at a big club, so it was said to help Edo.

    “Obviously when the crowd get behind us at home, as they did last season and have done this season too, it gives you that bit more. It's like an extra player. When the Olimpico faithful are on their game, you really hear them. I remember what it was like as an opponent. When our fans are at their best, they give you an extra gear. Personally speaking, when I'm playing I'm focused on what I'm doing on the pitch so I don't hear if people boo or shout at me. I hope the crowd can help us tomorrow and give us that extra little bit. But it's up to us as well to get the stadium behind us.”

    Do you think your win at the weekend has created the balance you need to overturn the first-leg result?

    “Our last match was a league match and it was important to win for the league. Tomorrow we have a knockout match against Salzburg. We're ready for it and determined to turn the tie around, because we've got ourselves in this position. We're behind so we have to turn it around if we want to keep going.

    “Regarding the balance in the dressing room, we've always had that, with the coaching staff and everyone else who works in Trigoria. It's the same balance we've always had - both when things aren't going so well and when we win.”