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Di Francesco's pre-Sassuolo press conference in full

Tomorrow's match is the last of the year. What's your assessment of this first part of the season at Roma, despite having tomorrow's game to play?

"I'd say there are two games left for us to play, there's also the game against Sampdoria that we weren't able to play and which has a real impact on the league table. We cannot wait to put ourselves on an equal footing with the other sides and make a more comprehensive assessment of where we are.

"We've done great things - we've grown a great deal. We're a little short of being a team that is competitive in every aspect, but that's something that can drive the group on, to really nail down certain concepts and be able to express ourselves with greater consistency during games."

What are your memories of your time at Sassuolo?

"I still get emotional when I think about the journey I went on there. I met so many incredible people, with whom I shared things I'll never forget. It was a real love affair and we had a great journey. When I see certain people again and read interviews I still get emotional. For instance the goal Simone Missiroli scored to win us the Serie B title. The path to bring us into the top flight was really significant - it's a wonderful and exciting memory. I thank everyone, starting with those whose work goes unnoticed, like the staff in the warehouse."

What do you think of the job Giuseppe Iachini has done?

"I think he's harnessing the work done before him by Cristian Bucchi. I know Beppe well. When he comes in, he's relentless in every way. He's created solidity in a team that was conceding lots of goals and they've picked up some important results of late."

What impact are Lorenzo Pellegrini and Gregoire Defrel having at Roma?

"Pellegrini is only 21 and is playing a lot. Some might think he always needs to play. He's a player with huge potential, both for Roma and as a prospect for the national side. It's the third year that I've coached him and I'm happy. He's developing non-stop and has great character when he plays. I view him as a first-team player.

"Defrel meanwhile has been really unlucky with things - he hasn't scored and that's a shame. Last week he got kicked where he was hurt in Genoa and he's now looking to recover. We hoped to have him in the squad tomorrow, but he won't be there."

Read everything coach Eusebio Di Francesco had to say ahead of Saturday's Serie A game against Sassuolo.

The match at the Stadio Olimpico gets underway at 20:45 CET.

Roma need to be more clinical up front. How are the attackers reacting to that?

"It's no use talking about it now - it's just chit chat. I think we need to bring that clinical side to our game and show that we're getting over a period of difficulty in front of goal. We're creating a lot and you could see that against Juventus, a side that doesn't often give much up. The game in Turin was emblematic, in terms of the chances created and the basis of our play. We need to bounce back on the pitch, starting tomorrow - perhaps by creating less but scoring more, as we've managed to do in the past."

To play Schick and Edin Dzeko together will you only use a 4-3-3 or 4-2-3-1?

"You need to know what you're talking about when you use these numbers. The 4-2-3-1 uses a midfielder behind the striker. If it's another attacker there then it becomes a 4-2-4, like what we did against Juventus. I've rarely used the 4-2-3-1, perhaps against Napoli and Milan while the games were in progress. When I shuffle the team I use 4-2-4 to get more men in the box. We create a lot but are having trouble converting our chances, so I put players in the box that are used to scoring.

"I think this team has now achieved a level of balance and absorbed different processes, so it would be a waste to throw that all away after two bad results. I can use a 4-3-3 or a 4-2-4 but I'm not considering a 4-2-3-1. I don't really like it. Perhaps I'll use it again one day but it's not in my thoughts for now. I may use a 4-2-4 from the start of a match or while it's in progress. There are lots of contradictions - the result is what make the difference. We need a great deal of balance with the selection I make. I won't say how I'll set up tomorrow, but Schick will definitely start - then we'll see who the other ten players will be."

Monchi reaffirmed that the team will be strengthened in January by players already at Roma. Are you on the same wavelength?

"I'm in complete agreement with him, but in any case, I'm not interested in talking about the transfer window. I've got enough on my plate with Sassuolo and the need to take home the points. That is my main focus now. We need to improve but I don't want to talk about transfers. Thoughts on that can change from one moment to another - as it stands, new recruits are the least of my concerns."

It was said that you were very good at overcoming adversity while at Sassuolo. How do you overcome a period like this at Roma?

"I don't feel like we're having a hard time. We did something extraordinary by finishing first in our Champions League group and in the league we're well on our way to being competitive and hassling those teams in front of us. To bounce back you need to win games - there are no other solutions. The strength I had at Sassuolo was knowing how to accept defeats in the right way, deal with them and work out how to improve.

"Not every win comes in the way I want it to but sometimes an ugly win gives you back some confidence and puts things right. We need to win tomorrow."

Yesterday [Daniele] De Rossi said one shouldn't overuse the word ‘win'. Is it overused because Roma haven't won anything for 10 years?

"I think ‘win' is a beautiful word. It means so many different things. It means overcoming scepticism, improving players, getting them into their national sides. Everyone loves winning matches. The important thing is to use this word in the right way. You shouldn't think about winning at all costs, but winning by means of an idea or mentality. We also have to learn from others - we need that determination and ruthlessness that Juve showed in the first 60 minutes of our match."

How does the Di Francesco we saw at Sassuolo differ? What mark would you give yourself for the first six months at Roma?

"I don't give myself marks. You give them to me and I accept them, because that is the way it should be. I'm happy with what we've done so far. It doesn't take much for things to swing from positive to negative - it's a fine line. That's why we need to get a win and spur our growth on. I think tomorrow's game is hugely important from that perspective. I was a player here and now I'm a coach, so I need to look at Roma, the club, in every aspect possible.

"I feel part of the set up here and I'm doing my job in a calm fashion. I'm highly stimulated and my experience at Sassuolo was fundamental to reaching this point. Here at the club we're trying to make this team and Trigoria one big family."

How did Schick react after the final whistle in Juventus v Roma? How was he in training during the week?

"It can happen that you miss a goal-scoring chance in the 94th minute in a game of that importance. It weighs heavily but he needs the strength to get over that. Right now, he's the player I'm sticking closest to - he's an asset to the club and he's very good. Even great players miss chances and he's not one of those yet. He needs to improve and has a long way to go. We've worked a great deal on the psychological aspect to get over that error against Juventus as quickly as possible.

"We can't accept this idea that we'd have drawn with Juventus if it wasn't for Schick's error. The defeat in Turin is the result of the team's performance and in that there were a few losses of focus. There are many things we could have done better against them, an opponent that has a little more than we do."

Looking at the goal-scoring figures you see that your midfielders, in particular, have scored very few. Do you still think Radja Nainggolan can score 18 goals as a central midfielder?

"I am more than convinced. Nainggolan has hit the woodwork many times. Last season his shots were finding the corners. The year before that he scored five or six goals. I once scored eight goals in one season and I was no world-beater. Radja has got great ability and he often looks to shoot. Maybe in his position wide in a midfield three he needs to improve the way he attacks the goal. He's had numerous chances to score goals and he's often been denied by good goalkeeping. He can score lots and I want to stay positive on that. I hope the team becomes more free-scoring once again, including the midfielders. It's not constructive to only talk about Nainggolan."

Roma are creating a great deal but just can't find the net. Is it also down to [Edin] Dzeko's loss of form?

"I believe Inter have picked up 40 points thanks to decisive goals from [Mauro] Icardi. An old friend of mine said the striker scores and the goalkeeper saves. It's key that the striker gets back scoring once again. In Edin's case, he's shooting on goal more than anyone else, according to statistics. He needs to find that clearness of thought. If he bags eight or ten goals, he'll feel better. I don't have a magic wand. What I need to do is get the players to make the right movements and get closer to the goal.

"We need to believe in ourselves more, like [Medhi] Benatia. He showed the belief, more than those defending. The players need firmer belief that their team-mates can play the right ball to create a goal-scoring chance."
Source: As Roma
Friday December 29, 2017
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