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Di Francesco: the derby means more, and we know that

Coach Eusebio Di Francesco sat down with the media on Friday afternoon to preview the Derby della Capitale against Lazio.

The game at the Stadio Olimpico gets underway at 15:00 CEST on Saturday.

With a win against Frosinone in midweek the Giallorossi go into the game with some confidence restored - but Lazio are on a four-match winning streak of their own.

Read what Di Francesco had to say during the press conference...

Roma got back on track with a good win against Frosinone. Does the derby offer you an opportunity to turn things around completely now?

"It's a long season but tomorrow is a massively important game for us as well as an opportunity to keep the results coming. The derby is a one-off and we must go into it determined to win. Three points tomorrow would rekindle enthusiasm among the fans."

Does the Frosinone game mark a change in tactics?

"It could be a starting point. There's work to do but we can work on two different playing systems. A lot depends on the players' attitude on the pitch - that's what makes the difference, regardless of the formation."

Has Kostas Manolas recovered?

"We need to look at him today. He's had a few niggles. We'll make a decision on whether to play him today or tomorrow. At the moment he's doubtful."

If Daniele De Rossi starts tomorrow, it will be his fourth game in a row. Is that a sacrifice worth making?

"It's not a sacrifice. He'd like to play every game - they all would. They'd all be happy to play five games in a row but De Rossi offers something different to other players. He's not a sprinter like Cengiz [Under]; he's more of a long-distance player. In De Rossi's case the fatigue is more likely to be on a mental level but he'll captain the side tomorrow."

Do you still think Roma can challenge for the title?

"We're not doing that at the moment but we must look forward and try to improve on a daily basis. I believe we can keep improving as a team and slowly work our way back up. It's disappointing to find ourselves lagging behind a touch but we have to work hard and catch up."

How important is this derby for your own future?

"It's very important for the future of Roma and I represent Roma, not myself. This is a huge club and I want to stay here. I'll do everything I can to ensure the team keeps improving."

How much influence do you think Stephan El Shaarawy can have on a game like this?

"El Shaarawy is coming on really well at the moment and he's starting to take games by the scruff of the neck. Consistency has always been an area he could improve but he's showing the right attitude. He's a great player and he has to show it week in week out."

Are De Rossi and Steven Nzonzi mainstays of the team when you play 4-2-3-1?

"We have other players with the ability to slot in there - [Bryan] Cristante and [Lorenzo] Pellegrini, for example. We can switch them around."

The fans seemed to have spared you in their protests. Does that make you feel proud?

"I think they're upset with everyone, myself included. I don't feel I'm excluded from that. They've said things to me too but the Curva have shown me their backing. It is nice but I want the players to be applauded, not me. They have to be the stars who win us matches. The fans will get behind the team tomorrow as usual, but it's partly up to us: we have to fire them with our desire to take control of the game and to battle for every ball. We haven't always done that but we can't afford not to."

Do you think taking some of the pressure off Cristante and Pellegrini can help them?

"That's generally the case for young players and for anyone going through a rough patch. The less pressure you put on them the easier it is for them to improve their performances."

Aleksandar Kolarov's run from deep in for the fourth goal against Frosinone is one of the few team moves we've seen from your side this season. Can this lack of movement be explained by the fact you're trying to find the right balance?

"We do have movement. We make fewer runs from deep with De Rossi and Nzonzi in the side but I ask everyone to get involved in moves. Kolarov is an option in midfield given the attributes he has but we've had other moves like that - like Cristante against Chievo or [Javier] Pastore getting forward on various occasions. I'll ask De Rossi and Nzonzi to make a few more runs like that."

How do you stay solid at the back with Pastore and three forwards in the team?

"We have lots of games to play and I'm weighing up my options, which you'll see tomorrow. Maintaining your balance as a team is crucial. Having two players like Nzonzi and De Rossi in there stops the opposition from breaking through the middle. Counter-attacks on the wing take that bit longer."

What do you think Lazio have which Roma don't at the moment?

"They signed experienced players like [Milan] Badelj, [Joaquin] Correa and [Francesco] Acerbi, who always performs at a very high level. They've built on what they did last season by playing with a specific formation and they're knocking results out. However, we must focus on ourselves and on improving our own game"

Edin Dzeko was only really influential against Torino. Where have Roma missed him most?

"What I'm interested in is his involvement in our build-up play and his willingness to help the team. He'll start up front tomorrow and I'm sure he'll play his part, as he always does in the big games. I'm less interested in his personal performance than what he brings to the side as a whole. He's got the ability to carry the team as he did at times last season but it all starts from his desire to put in a shift for the team."

Davide Santon looked solid against Frosinone. Could he be used at full-back with Alessandro Florenzi in midfield?

"Personally I think Alessandro is better at full-back than higher up the wing or in midfield. I think he's one of those players who perform at their best near the touchline. If anything, I feel he's better suited to playing as a wide forward than in central midfield. We have [Rick] Karsdorp too. He needs to improve but he's training better now. Santon looked solid but people change their opinion from one game to the next. I know what sort of a player he is and he showed it against Frosinone."
Source: As Roma
Friday September 28, 2018
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