Perotti looking to add goals after returning from injury
Having overcome his recent injury troubles to return to full fitness ahead of Saturday's big clash with Napoli, forward Diego Perotti sat down with Roma's Match Programme to discuss the season so far.
Read everything the Argentine had to say in the transcript below...
Match Programme: Let's start by looking back on that goal against Genoa [on the last day of last season]...
Perotti: "The goal against Genoa was one of the most important I've scored in my whole career - it's the highlight of my time at Roma so far. It really was a unique moment for me. I won the Copa del Rey with Sevilla, but seeing my team-mates and fans so happy because of a goal I'd scored was something I'd never experienced. I'll never forget that day, because it was Francesco Totti's last game. The goal will stay with me forever. It meant we secured Champions League qualification, which was a very important achievement for me and for the club."
And how are things now?
"Good. I've just recovered from my injury, thankfully. I had to miss the games against Qarabag and AC Milan, but the international break came at the right time for me to focus on getting better. I returned to training a few days ago and I'm ready for selection by the coach."
During pre-season, you said that you were going to improve under Eusebio Di Francesco. Do you feel that you've made progress under the boss?
"Yes. The playing system that the coach uses works really well with my style of play. He's the type of coach that loves playing with the wingers pushed up high and playing on the opposite side to their stronger foot. That makes it easier for me so I'm enjoying it. I think I can raise my game even more so I'll keep working hard in training so I can achieve that. We've really improved since we started back in Pinzolo and you can see that in the results we've achieved."
Does Di Francesco ask different things of you in comparison with previous seasons?
"The main difference is that he wants me to squeeze in more centrally, pick up the ball between the lines and make sure I keep myself in space. The coach knows that I love playing in that way - he knows that if I don't give the defenders an idea of what I'm going to do, I'm more likely to cause damage. I've been concentrating on it since Pinzolo and it's working better and better."
You've made a positive start to the season. Are you satisfied?
"I think I've started well in terms of my performances. I'm not happy about the fact that I haven't scored any goals and missed a penalty on top of that. That really annoyed me. Physically I feel good - I did some training while on holiday before pre-season began and I think that's done me the world of good."
How are Roma doing so far?
"We're enjoying a really positive spell. Nobody believed in us at the start of the season and we were a bit behind the other teams aiming to win the Scudetto, but now we've shown that we're in the mixer too. We have a game in hand and we've picked up four points from six in the Champions League. I think that's a good start."
Did the win against AC Milan send out a message to the rest of the league?
"The victory at San Siro was a show of strength and character against a team that has brought in a lot of new players. AC Milan aren't in great form at the moment, but they're still AC Milan. Every match is going to be tough from now on. If we don't get the three points against Napoli, the result against AC Milan will count for nothing. Every single game we play is vital."
Napoli have won every game so far and have perhaps been the surprise of the season. Were you expecting them to start so well?
"I was really impressed by Napoli last season too. There aren't many teams in the world that play like they do, but they're not invincible. I still think Juventus are the best team, at least in terms of their football. Napoli are doing well, but we'll try to hurt them when they come to Rome."
Last time Napoli beat you 2-1 at the Olimpico, with you hitting the crossbar in the closing stages.
"They caused us problems last year and we had a bit of a tough time at the end of the season as a result of that game. Let's hope it goes differently this time around."
The Napoli match is the first in a run of seven matches in three weeks. Do you think the team is ready for that?
"It's never easy to play seven games in 21 days, but we're used to it. The players that didn't go away on international duty were able to get a bit more rest, but it's tougher on the players that have had to travel long distances for international duty like [Federico] Fazio and Alisson, who will have to deal with the time difference. That said, I believe that playing lots of games in quick succession is the best way to stay in shape. There's no better way to train than by playing matches."
Edin Dzeko has been included on the 30-man shortlist for the Ballon d'Or. What do you make of that?
"We've congratulated him. It's an honour for us to have a team-mate who is among the best players in the world and we want to help him to score even more goals. He had an amazing season last time out and he deserves this."
If Roma win a penalty on Saturday, who'll take it: Perotti or Dzeko?
"I'll be taking it. I'm still capable of scoring from the spot. Sometimes you miss - I wish I hadn't because I wanted to go my whole career without missing one, but if I really had to miss one then it's better that it happened when we were 3-0 up. As long as the coach hasn't changed his mind, I'll be taking the penalties."