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    De Rossi: “I like having to fight to win. We could’ve managed it better”

    AS Roma were victorious over Torino on Monday night and now move ever closer to a Champions League spot.

    Tonight’s victory is Daniele De Rossi’s fifth win in six Serie A matches. Here’s what the boss had to say after the game.

    Given the result, should you have suffered a bit less? When Roma took the lead in the second half, you managed the game well.

    “Yes. I liked how we managed those 20 or so minutes. We knew how to push it, but also how to slow down and breathe a little. I had Rasmus [Kristensen] next to me when we scored and I said to him, “These guys never give up. Their coach never gives up. It’s not over yet.” And they didn’t give up.

    “We really had to fight right up to the end. I like winning like that, but for our game, our hearts, and our heads, we should be killing off matches like this earlier – if I can say that. They’d been pressing us hard for the whole match, but they couldn’t keep that tempo up. We could’ve managed it a bit better throughout.”

    It felt like you were balanced out there. We also saw a world-class talent.

    “Yes, we had that same feeling. These world-class players are decisive in every sport, that’s never up for discussion. I think we had that balance in the first half. They’re a team that cause problems for everyone, not just us. They played really well against Lazio and had lots of shots on target. They’ve played well against other big teams too. They’re a great team who are well prepared. They’ve got that physicality and they press hard all across the pitch. We knew it would be difficult, especially after Thursday evening. I think we did some great stuff too. I saw a statistic on our chances. If that shot in the first couple of minutes didn’t hit the post, the game would’ve changed immediately.

    “We scored in the 40th minute, then they equalised straight after. That would knock anyone down, but we came back in the second half really well.”

    How could you have avoided conceding?

    “The first was a great goal from their forward. We talk amongst ourselves and decide we should defend in a certain way. If the striker then jumps three metres in the air, hits the post and sends the ball into the net, you’ve just got to applaud him. He was good. There’s [Paulo] Dybala that moves the ball and shoots from 30 metres and there are the opposition’s forwards.

    “If you analyse the goals, they all could’ve been avoided, but how boring would it be if every match finished 0-0. These are great players and these types of goals are always going to happen. For the second goal, I think with just a little more focus on blocking that cross, which we’re working on, we could’ve stopped it going in.”

    We were surprised by Mancini’s position. He was a lot further up the pitch, with Kristensen even further. Did you do that because of how Torino play?

    “Yes, of course. We built with four at the back because I wanted to draw out their wing-backs to create a bit more space. On getting [Gianluca] Mancini further up, I’d asked the same of Evan Ndicka as well as Chris Smalling.

    “These are teams that press you man for man and their midfielders are always very careful to mark their man, while their forwards, who are top-quality, forget to do so. Through watching their matches, like the one against Udinese, we realised that their forwards were letting their men [that they should be marking] go. We managed to create some dominance in that way.”

    Two other bits of good news: Smalling was on the pitch for 78 minutes and Lukaku had a big impact from the bench. He linked linked up really well with Dybala.

    “I’m happy Renato [Sanches] played too. I’m happy for Chris [Smalling] as we were waiting for him. A long-term injury like this has to be managed. It’s got to be managed physically, in terms of his energy and the minutes he plays, and also mentally when deciding which match he should come back for.  

    “Smalling is an amazing guy. He’s a great professional and he wants to show what he’s good at. He’s done that. I actually thought he wouldn’t have lasted that long.

    “As for Romelu [Lukaku], he came on and did brilliantly, as only he knows how. I really liked [Sardar] Azmoun but in that moment, man on man, they gave us a lot of space and we needed someone like Romelu to hold up the ball and that win those one on ones. He really was a great sub.”

    What are you expecting from Brighton? What are you scared of?

    “They’re a very good and well-balanced team. They’ve got players that are thinkers, they’ve got great runners, they’ve got players with flair. I think [Roberto] De Zerbi is one of the best coaches in Italy, and maybe in Europe too.

    “I fear a bit of everything and everyone. Looking at their squad, Roma has nothing to fear. We’ve got to respect them, but I think we’re a brilliant team.

    “Some matches you prepare for with little time. Brighton will cause me a few sleepless nights because it’ll be tricky. We’ve got to find the right solutions. I don’t think Roberto was best pleased about the draw either and I think he knows that we can cause problems for them when we’ve got the ball.”

    I guess he won’t be giving you his data this time…

    “We spoke to each other on the first day, but we can’t do that anymore. We get on well and our daughters are friends. They live together in London.

    “I’ve memorised everything by this point. I try and copy the greats and he is one of the greats.”