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Need to Know: Di Francesco's key pre-Napoli comments

Eusebio Di Francesco held his pre-match press conference on Friday to preview the weekend's big Serie A clash against Napoli.

The Giallorossi head to the Stadio San Paolo on Saturday to face the league leaders, with kick-off scheduled for 20:45 CET.

We've rounded up the key comments from the boss ahead of the clash - as he gave his thoughts on the current race for the top four in Serie A, revealed the fitness situation for midfielders Lorenzo Pellegrini and Radja Nainggolan, and discussed the side's current form...

On Roma's defeat to Napoli in October...
"A long time has passed since the game earlier in the season, but the attitude we showed in the second half back in October gave us a foundation to kick on and produce some big performances after that. We have the same mentality, but lately we've been lacking the consistency you need to stay in games.

"We can't afford that to happen against Napoli because they're in great shape both mentally and physically. We have a chance to do well against Napoli despite what the league table would suggest."

On the squad's fitness...
"[Radja] Nainggolan and [Lorenzo] Pellegrini returned to group training yesterday. Radja still needs to get over the after-effects of the blow he took to his mouth (losing a tooth during the game against AC Milan) so I'll need to have a look at him tomorrow. Lorenzo is fully fit.

"[Stephan] El Shaarawy and [Gregoire] Defrel have both trained very well this week. Gregoire has had a few little niggles over the past few days, but both could be in contention for tomorrow's game. It's the same story with them as it is with the others. I haven't made any decisions yet."

On the Champions League race...
"Regardless of who we play, we always need to be getting results. The longer we go on, [without getting results then] the less of a chance we have to return to the Champions League places. It's vital that we go into the journey ahead with confidence. We've not picked up many points against the teams ahead of us so tomorrow is a chance to improve our record. We have to try."

On finding consistency...
"Quite often we fail to maintain our movement throughout a game. If my players didn't want to do what I ask of them, that would be happening from kick-off, but in actual fact they lose their way during the games. That shows that we need to work on the mental side of things. We lose our way at the first sign of difficulty and that's something we need to improve.

"We let games get away from us as soon as something goes wrong. On top of that, we haven't been any to turn games around when we've gone behind, which is something else we need to focus on. I'm the first one that needs to be more aware of that."

On the coach's decisions...
"Often, the fact that I speak to the media in an open, respectful way is confused with a lack of character or a sign of weakness on my part. However, I believe that being open is vital. If you share things, it means you can gain even more belief in what you do. We've always believed in a certain style of play.

"I always listen to the players when I talk to them, but at the end of the day it's me that makes the decisions. It'll always be me that decides on the playing system and the players will always do what I tell them to do. When I see that I'm not getting a reaction from them, I'll be the first one to say it's time to go."

On the tactical setup...
"If the team stays compact we perform well in both attack and defence, regardless of the playing system. When a team gets stretched, that's when the problems start. There's always a lot of talk about individual players, but the most important thing is the team - especially when it comes to the playing system."
Source: As Roma
Friday March 02, 2018
 
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