Di Francesco: This wasn't an ugly win, despite the scoreline
Read what the coach had to say in the wake of Roma's 1-0 victory over Bologna on Saturday night.
The Giallorossi had Stephan El Shaarawy to thank for their latest victory, in a game that saw Di Francesco once again come up against his son, Federico.
INTERVIEW: Your players have got you the wins you asked for to boost confidence and stay in touch with the teams at the top.
DI FRANCESCO: "As I said to the lads in our pre-match meeting, it was important for us to focus on ourselves today because Juve were playing before us. We had to focus on our own game. I'd pointed out that in Serie A and the Champions League we'd taken 78 corners without scoring. I wanted a goal from a corner and I got one today."
The players say Roma weren't winning ugly like this last year. Is there more belief in the camp?
"I wouldn't say we won ugly today, nor would I describe our win against Crotone as such. When you create lots of openings it casts a 1-0 win in a different light. We were up against a good Bologna side who came here looking to play the way I expected them to. They caused problems for us with their runs and movement but our backline held up really well. We were very aggressive, even though Bologna always perform well against the big teams."
You changed eight of your starting line-up from the last game. Does that show your team have developed a clear playing style regardless of the individual players?
"They're a collective all working towards the same goal, putting in the work both when defending and when attacking, and trying to play the way I want them to play - which is by having the ball. It's helping us to mature as a team. We made too many mistakes in the opposition half during the opening period today and we didn't always keep our heads in front of goal third. We fashioned lots of good chances - we just needed to be a bit more clinical in finishing off moves."
What did you think of your son Federico's performance? Do you think he could play for Roma?
"He can certainly come here once I've left! It's very hard to coach your son. He's grown up a lot though and he caused us problems tonight. I found it hard to call him 'Di Francesco' or 'Federico' when speaking to my players. He's good at getting into space and we needed to be switched on both to track his runs and to let him go when he set off early. You can't hold anything back when you're out there. He played his game and I played mine. I think he did well. After the game, [Alessandro] Florenzi came and told me he was a real pain in the ass! Federico was an opponent during the match but we'll get together tonight. He went back to being my son as soon as the match finished."
Your best work seemed to be at the back, where you played with a very high defensive line despite [Federico] Fazio not being the fastest of defenders...
"I agree entirely. They're taking on board certain ideas we've been working on since the start of the season, when we had a few teething difficulties - as you'd expect. Our movement is looking much better oiled now."
Your team aren't afraid of putting in the hard yards, be it forwards or backwards. How's their fitness? Is Kevin Strootman perhaps a bit behind in that respect?
"Physically Kevin is absolutely fine and the data backs that up. Perhaps he could do with a goal or a piece of play for his confidence. I'm pleased so far: the best work for our defensive line is what our midfielders and forwards are doing. Even Edin Dzeko up front is chasing down opponents on every ball. Kevin is one of those who guide the others in training and help me get certain ideas across to the squad. That's not to say he can't improve of course - they all can - but I'm happy with him."
You face Chelsea, Lazio and Atletico Madrid over the next three weeks. How are you set?
"All I know is we have Chelsea to play on Tuesday and we'll try to recover our energy as best we can for that. I made the decision to switch a few players around so that we're fresher going into certain games. It could be that lots of the lads who played tonight will play against Chelsea too. I don't want to look too far ahead.
"We'll assess things on a game-by-game basis. Obviously we'll take on Chelsea looking to keep our chances of qualifying alive and try to win. We always play to win."