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Di Francesco: We weren't our usual selves

Eusebio Di Francesco acknowledged his side were knocked off their game on Saturday night, as Roma fell to a 1-0 defeat against Juventus.

Medhi Benatia scored the only goal of the game midway through the first half at the Allianz Stadium, as the Giallorossi came up just short with a number of late chances to equalise.

Afterwards Di Francesco accepted that his side had not produced their best on the night.

"I think we improved after the first 15 minutes of the second half," Di Francesco said. "Juve produced a very gritty display and managed to take the lead because we switched off on a corner - which is exactly what happened against Torino too.

"We keep failing to convert our chances and Juventus give very few of those away - not even to the likes of Inter and Napoli. I think we're the team that had the clearest chances against them and it was down to our sheer determination.

"We were found a little wanting in our pressing game tonight, which is something we've been good at lately. We weren't quick enough at implementing the things we'd worked on, though that's partly due to Juventus because they started the game better than us."

Could the fact you've lost to your three main rivals affect the team psychologically?

"I didn't come here to lose 1-0 and then go back home. I work with the team to instil confidence so that we can go anywhere and give anyone a game. We tried to do that today but Juve were much better than us at the start. We managed to stay in the game till the end despite riding our luck a little on some of their counter-attacks - and that's always possible given the way we play.

"We caused problems for Juventus and I don't think many sides have managed that here in Turin. We must take strength from that. It's a shame because we bossed the game against Torino and conceded from a set-piece. The same thing happened today with different players. Clearly we're not good enough yet and we need to work even harder at them."

Your midfield seemed to lose their shape a little at the start. Why was that?

"I agree with that entirely. We got stretched and our passing was off - we came up short there. Having said that, you get spells where you find it harder and if you look at how Juve played, you might wonder why they dropped off so much late on. It was down to us and the way we harried them. The lads are in good shape: physically we were on top at the end, so why can't we do that from the start? We need to believe in ourselves a bit more."

Did [Miralem] Pjanic's position cause problems for you? [Daniele] De Rossi always seemed to get to him late...

"It wasn't supposed to be De Rossi closing him down. It was supposed to be one of our other midfielders but we were a bit too slow sometimes so Daniele had to press him instead. We were always slow in closing down and when that happens it's better not to go at all because you leave pockets of space for the opposition to exploit. We must do better but we mustn't stop trying to harry opponents."

When Schick came on you switched to 4-2-3-1. Could that be an option for you in future?

"It was a 4-2-4 because they were all forwards - there was no trequartista in there. It's a good option to have during the game but we do a lot of work on 4-3-3 and we're doing very well with it. The lads have taken my ideas on board, although that was less apparent in the early stages of the game when we weren't so good at reproducing the things we work on in training."

Massimiliano Allegri had Paulo Dybala on the bench. Should Edin Dzeko perhaps be rested a bit more?

"Allegri has more options. I haven't had Schick for long. I'm pleased with how hard-working Edin and the others are. There are times when the mental aspect is important for a striker and I'm trying to get Dzeko back to the sort of scoring form he's capable of."

What did you think of that late chance for Schick?

"It wasn't just that one. We put lots of good crosses in behind their line but we couldn't make the right runs or cover the space in the area well. They were all potential scoring opportunities. Look at Juventus: [Mario] Mandzukic is always causing problems in the box. That's something we need to improve on."
Saturday December 23, 2017
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