Since the game at the Olimpico, Servette have bagged eight wins and a draw. Are you expecting a different Servette in tomorrow’s game?
“The best thing for Servette would be to put a second-string team on the pitch tomorrow and concentrate on Sunday’s match. We want first place and to score some important goals. We want to come out on top of the group.
“I know Servette start well when they play at home, in the first 20-30 minutes. Let’s hope they’re focused on the Swiss league because they should claim third place, but in any case we must be wary of them at home.”
You’ll need your whole squad from here on in. Is it now easier to motivate the players who have so far been reserves or not had much playing time? In this respect, will tomorrow's game give some insight into when these players will be called upon in the future?
“We won’t be thinking about the goals we need to score tomorrow; we’ll be thinking about winning. The match is difficult enough on its own. If we win and so do Slavia Prague, it’ll go to goal difference on the last matchday. That’s when we’ll be able to risk it all: at home, in front of our fans, against Sheriff, who will already be out of the group. The aim is to win tomorrow.
“Regarding rotating the squad, I’ve had some experience doing that but unfortunately, the response wasn’t what I expected. Besides Tammy [Abraham] and [Marash] Kumbulla, who I’m not thinking of as players today but as lads I care about and want to see recover, besides those two, our problems are in defence. We’re without [Chris] Smalling and we have no other options. In other positions, we’ve got to trust the players. I’ve already had a good conversation with the group. We’re all important. We’ve got two away matches in three days. We get back to Rome on Friday and then we’re off to Sassuolo on Saturday. We need everyone.
“That’s why I’m going to make some changes tomorrow. I’m expecting a good response and that those not used to being on the bench will be motivated and prepared with a sense of responsibility to go out there and do well.
“We’ve got to take home those three points tomorrow because a draw doesn’t do anything for me. I’m not scared of getting to the last match to win and qualify. Tomorrow we have to risk it all to win.”
There are three players that need to be handled in a particular way: Paulo Dybala, Lorenzo Pellegrini and Renato Sanches. How do you think you’ll use them?
“They won’t all be playing together. Not all three of them will start. I have to make some changes. Sunday’s match is also important. I obviously have to manage Renato because of his injury history. In the last match Lorenzo played the first hour after not playing for a long time. Paulo came back from Argentina and that’s never easy. He had to play something like 88 minutes. I have to manage those three. [Edoardo] Bove has to play the 90 minutes and do a double marathon. We have to be mentally strong. Whoever plays has to give their all because, as I’ve said, a draw doesn’t do anything for me. A draw will get us through but if we don’t qualify tomorrow, we’ll have to do it in two weeks’ time in Rome. Qualifying isn’t the problem. I don’t think we’ll lose tomorrow. We need to risk it all to win. But at the same time, we do have to think about the players that you mentioned.”
Can you tell us about Gianluca Mancini's condition? You said you were disappointed by your players' attitude in Prague. I guess you've spoken to them about that match and held it up as an example of what not to do?
“Our performance in Prague was unacceptable. Obviously it was a bad result but regardless of the result – because sometimes you get a bad result you don't deserve – I saw the game from the stands and it was difficult to watch. We had no focus and the wrong attitude. We all know the derby comes with a lot of emotional baggage and that's partly your [the journalists'] fault because you start talking about it on Monday when there's another game to play on Thursday. The players were perhaps feeling the weight of that derby responsibility.
“In any case, it was a horrible game. Unacceptable. And yes, we did talk about it today. But it's in the past and tomorrow is another match. We're facing tough opponents and the pitch will be a disaster because the groundsman has been on holiday for three weeks. But it's ok. We'll get on with it.
“We don't have another Mancini if he tells me he can't play tomorrow. But if he feels up to it, he has to play because we have no alternatives. We have those three and we're waiting for Smalling and Kumbulla. [Bryan] Cristante won't be involved unfortunately and he could have helped out there. But we'll get on with it.
“Hopefully Kumbulla and Smalling will be back in January and our director [Tiago Pinto] can perform a miracle and manage to get [Rasmus] Kristensen and [Sardar] Azmoun added to the squad list. The more players we have the better because we'll be heading into the decisive part of the season.”
© 2018-2024 Soccer S.r.l. – EU VAT IT09305501000 - all rights reserved. The AS Roma names, logos and artwork are registered or unregistered trademarks of Soccer S.r.l. All other trademarks may be the property of their respective holders.