Di Francesco: "I agree with Ancelotti on the racism issue, we have to do something to stop it"
DI FRANCESCO: PARMA WILL BE A DIFFERENT TEST
Read what coach Eusebio Di Francesco had to say at his pre-match press conference on Friday, as the Giallorossi prepare to face Parma in Serie A.
The game at the Stadio Ennio Tardini gets underway at 15:00 local time, with the Giallorossi looking to build on Wednesday's 3-1 win over Sassuolo.
What hidden dangers are there in this trip to Parma?
"The numbers speak for themselves. They've picked up 25 points and what they're particularly good at is going direct, with forwards that are very good on the break. We'll need to play our own game but we'll also need to make sure we don't give them too many chances to counter. It's something that will happen at some stage."
How is Patrik Schick?
"He's fine. He trained with the team and has recovered from the little niggle he picked up during the match - an inflammation."
Is there a problem with racism in Italy and hooliganism outside the stadiums? Do you agree with what Carlo Ancelotti said - that matches should be halted?
"I agree with Carlo, completely. He's said this kind of thing before and I'm in agreement with him. If the stadium can't solve these issues, it's up to us to take a strong stance. I'm behind him."
What more does Italian football need to do? What are you hoping to see in 2019?
"Often people go to the stadiums not for the sporting culture. They go to offend people rather than cheer on their own team. We've organised many initiatives, including in schools, but some of these things keep happening in the grounds - in Rome too. Some people prefer to offend others, rather than taking joy. England have set an example - you need to be tough and meticulous. There are some types of behaviour you shouldn't be able to get away with. It's up to us to stop. Teams must not accept that kind of conduct."
Will Schick play from the first minute?
"Edin Dzeko is ready to start. I'll assess the situation - both could start the match. We've got a run of games in quick succession and I'll need to make some calls as to whether I can include players coming back from minor injuries and who can't play a full 90 minutes."
How is Stephan El Shaarawy? Can Diego Perotti start two consecutive games?
"I'll need to assess Diego [Perotti], though it'd be a risk. I was pleased with how he played against Sassuolo and we'll talk about getting him back into the side. He wasn't in top shape today, but he can improve. Stephan [El Shaarawy] doesn't have 90 minutes in him yet, but he could start as he's entirely recovered from his injury."
Bryan Cristante and Steven Nzonzi have been doing overtime recently. Are you thinking of other solutions?
"That's something we'll have to talk about after the break. [Lorenzo] Pellegrini trained with the group for the first time yesterday. Having him available is a boost, as a solution from the bench. We'll make three changes and they are decisions that need to be made with all aspects considered."
Are you looking at a strategy to keep Gervinho quiet?
"I think he's a player that we should not underestimate, but we can't go to Parma and camp out on our goal-line. We definitely need to take the game to them. They will try to play to their strengths and we need to make sure we read the game and cover ourselves. We need to focus on how we set up, because they try to use Gervinho's pace straight from the keeper."
What do you make of Roberto D'Aversa?
"He's a capable guy. He started in Serie C and has earned his place in Serie A through hard work on the pitch. He knows how to make the most of his players' characteristics and has achieved some good results against teams at the top."
You've said it's inevitable that the club will do some business in the transfer window. What areas of the team require most reinforcement?
"At the end of the day you can look at all areas - it depends on all the different situations the market throws up. It's too early to talk about this, though. We need to focus on the match first. I've not spoken to the director about transfers much at all, because Roma's priority is to get points. We can speak about all the rest afterwards."
Do you think the Sassuolo win has triggered something in the team? Do you feel you're still in the hunt for fourth place?
"Yes, the table shows that. The team showed that it could do it. We played some good football on a technical level and going forward, and we got stuck into the individual duels. Sassuolo try to play football and that makes it easier for us. It will be a different game tomorrow and we need to ensure we approach it differently."
Do you think that leaving the field as a result of racist chanting gives too much power to those responsible?
"When we talk about these things, everyone thinks they have the answer. We need to take action - we need initiatives. Stopping for ten minutes would show that if it continues, we can't proceed."
How much patience will you need against Parma?
"We'll need it, but we also need to score. You can't afford to pass the ball around for half an hour. We need to make sure we force the play at times, in the one-on-ones, to try to break their defensive line. Inevitably they're going to be a threat on the counter, but we need to accept that and defend well."
Before his injury Lorenzo Pellegrini was the driving force of the team, but now Nicolo Zaniolo is on the up. Both play in attacking midfield - can they play together?
"I think they can play together just fine. Zaniolo has played in central midfield a few times and Pellegrini has done so on many more occasions. Lorenzo can play in a number of different positions in various formations. He's uniquely versatile, always on the move and good in both attack and defence. It's an asset to have them both - a positive not a negative."