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    De Rossi's post-match thoughts after Atalanta defeat

    The Giallorossi coach shared his thoughts after the performance away in Bergamo.

    The positive takeaway is, perhaps, that Roma never give up. Or is there little to take from this?

    "There was a reaction at the end, after the penalty incident. But we should be reacting sooner. They are a strong side – they go twice as fast as many teams in Italy and perhaps even in Europe.

    "But mental reactions exist in football, and sometimes we have to find that drive and win a few more duels, produce more good pieces of play, because we can't wait for a penalty to get back into a game.

    "After the first goal we loosened up and we then immediately conceded another one. I know that it's not easy to play against these teams here, in this stadium, in this moment of ours, but we risked conceding so many goals, and that's not good."

    At times we heard you ask the team not to pass the ball backwards. Was there a lack of courage?

    "It's not a question of courage or going backwards. Against Atalanta, who come at you hard, we had prepared a more direct game than this. We knew we would be man-to-man with Romelu [Lukaku] and [Isak] Hien and we kept the ball with the goalkeeper because we knew we would open them up a bit.

    "Then, when we had to go direct, we were meant to go in support of Romelu, and he managed that maybe a few times in the first half. So, the decision to put another striker on was because I thought that, with another point of reference up front, we could achieve that more easily."

    With the two forwards close together, you went more direct, and we saw Roma come out. It was thought the team was tired, but they stepped it up at the end.

    "In my opinion, the change of pace was a mental thing. We saw the opportunity to get back into the game, even though we didn't deserve it, and we did better in the last half hour: we had a few chances. But they also came forward and had chances of their own.

    "The thing about playing directly is that we only prepared it that way. Ball possession, which I like, is an end in itself if you play against a team that comes to take you inside. So you manage the ball to bring them out – and they already do that themselves – and then you go direct.

    "Unfortunately, when you go direct you have to be able to keep it, move up the pitch and get in behind, but we don't have that ability to really stretch."

    I think fitness made the difference – in the duels you were always coming second. The positive is the reaction. Now, you need a great deal of rest and then maybe you will be able to work with your ideas. Playing every other day, you have not been able to do that.

    "We have to rediscover this energy, because we have lost it. There are two big games left. We have to finish sixth – the group deserves it for what they have done. It's obvious that we don't deserve to finish ahead of this Atalanta, in this sort of form. To be able to compete, this last round of games has really been an obstacle, a tough challenge for the boys.

    "We'll rest and rebuild something more ready to play football at this level, because strong teams play every three days: Atalanta play every three days. It's not like we're playing and the others are resting. Especially tonight, we cannot cling to tiredness. We have to be ready, because they are going twice as hard, and not just compared to us. But if we want to catch up with them, we have to be more prepared."

    The initial choice was to play with three centre-backs. Why return to this tactical set-up from time to time, perhaps in search of a comfort zone?

    "Not particularly. It was because I thought it would be easier to catch them this way, because they were mirroring us. The first 20 minutes of the second half we had two forwards, but the game was very similar to what we had seen in the first half.

    "The reaction didn't come from a tactical matter, but because we got a fairly random penalty and it woke us up a bit, made us believe we could get something more. I don't make it about three or four-man defences: we've had some bad games with a four-man defence and some good games with a three-man defence. What's more, with a three-man defence... we've put a full-back in as a third centre-back and when we build, we occasionally go up with the four. It seems to me that today's game said a lot, but little from a tactical point of view."