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Need to Know: Di Francesco's pre-Juve press conference

On Saturday afternoon coach Eusebio Di Francesco faced the media to preview the Serie A clash against Juventus.

Sunday's game at the Stadio Olimpico gets underway at 20:45 CEST.

Read what the boss had to say about the importance of the game...

How important is tomorrow's game?

"Tomorrow's game is a tough one but it's crucial for us, because we still have an significant aim that we need to achieve. We really want to make sure we hold onto third spot."

Tomorrow will be your 50th game as Roma coach, in what has been a long and demanding season.

"I hope I can coach the side in many more matches. It's a small milestone but, as I always say, I'm not someone to rest on my laurels. I hope the games I coach here in future can be better than the ones that have gone before."

What do you need to improve if you are to close the gap between yourselves and Juventus?

"We need to do lots of work and build on what we've done. Juventus have won a great deal and not just with Massimiliano Allegri. They have a mentality whereby winning becomes a habit. Roma have always been just slightly behind over the past few years. It's not easy to find the right remedy. We need to work on several areas and strengthen. We've made some steps forward. I think Juventus set an example in the way they handle less-important games: with the same approach."

Will Jesus, Strootman and Cengiz play tomorrow?

"Two of those will play. I can say that Dzeko, Alisson, Florenzi, Kolarov, De Rossi and El Shaarawy will play tomorrow. I need to decide on the others."

Have you been able to explain the difference between your Champions League showings and those in the league, including in games against your closest rivals?

"We've lost too many games at home. We need the Olimpico to be a fortress for us once again. So much of Juventus's league wins have been built on their home form. I hope we can improve in that aspect. We've done really well away from home, including defensively."

Is the emphasis on finishing third coming from the club too?

"I've been saying this for some time. Our aim has been to reach the Champions League places, and it's a reasonable aim to look to finish third. This is what the team and I want."

Do you have an opportunity to send a message for next season tomorrow?

"It's all relative, but it's more for ourselves and for our own mentality. Juventus will be up for the game, but they can relax to an extent as they already more or less have their hands on the Scudetto. They came here last year, in similar circumstances, and lost.

"If I remember rightly, they didn't have the same level of determination, because of the other objectives they were fighting for. They have it perhaps easier than we do in tackling certain games at this point of the season."

Will you have any input when it comes to the next transfer window?

"I'm the coach - I'm not in charge of our transfer dealings. It's too early to start talking about that - we've got a really big game to focus on. Our prime objective is to qualify for the Champions League. I've not even spoken about it with the club. Of course the coach's opinion is important, so they know who I'd like, in terms of the playing style and mentality of players."

Is it a less intense rivalry with Juventus compared to when you were a player?

"The feeling around the game is different, but either way, when you're on the pitch, there are no friends, team-mates or brothers. That is the mindset - you can respect one another but, once you're out on the pitch, you have to give absolutely everything to beat your opponents."

You only need a point for Champions League qualification, but what message would it send to get six?

"That's our aim, but messages are sent out on the pitch. The one we want to send is rounding off the season well, picking up as many points as we can. We'll try to get all six, because that's the right approach and we want them."

After a season here, do you feel the gap between yourselves and Juventus has got smaller?

"We took time to get going in the league. In the Champions League, in terms of results, we did better. We've made a step forward, but we've a long way to go if we're to match them in terms of mentality. They are a team that never give up, as they showed against Real Madrid and in the league, by doing their talking on the pitch."

What do you think about the introduction of B teams?

"I'm completely in favour of it. It will be advantageous for the big teams, as regards the development of young players, but that's not all. It could benefit Serie C, as we'll get to see other teams as well as our own. It can be an opportunity for the lower leagues to showcase themselves. Though we have to make sure the rules do not damage those teams in Serie B and C.

"I'm in favour of innovative steps and we've seen this system function in Spain, where it has helped players reach the first team and have something extra about them. With the right implementation, I'm completely in favour."

Luciano Spalletti and Rudi Garcia said it was impossible to close the gap with Juventus. What do you think, when it comes to transfer dealings?

"I'm not in charge of the accounts - that's in the club's remit. We should aim to do better and we've shown we can do that. Firstly, we need to get back into the Champions League and demonstrate that we can do even better. It's natural to want to improve your team. Together, we will try to convey those objectives."
Source: As Roma
Saturday May 12, 2018
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