Ghana's No. 1


Published on: 06 August 2020

Coach Paulo Fonseca answered questions from the media on Wednesday afternoon, ahead of Roma's Europa League showdown with Sevilla. The Giallorossi face the five-time winners of the competition in a one-off tie on Thursday evening in Duisburg (kick-off: 18:55 CEST), with the winner progressing to the quarter-finals of the competition. Here is what the boss had to say ahead of the game...

How are Roma looking going into this game? Could Lorenzo Pellegrini start in midfield?
“The team has come here really motivated. We are in good form right now. We know that it will be a tough game, against a really good side. The players are hungry to do well. Pellegrini is an option, but Bryan Cristante could play as well. We will see tomorrow.”

Are you thinking about using Nicolo Zaniolo and Pellegrini together, one replacing the other?
“I have to say that Zaniolo will start tomorrow. I haven’t yet decided about Pellegrini.”

The league campaign is over. Do you think if you had changed the formation sooner things would have gone differently?
“I don’t ever think about the past. What’s important is what we are doing now. We come here full of confidence. Dealing with hypotheticals isn’t really my style.”

Is Zaniolo fit enough to start the game?
“As I said, Zaniolo will play tomorrow. He’s ready.”

There are a lot of rumours surrounding the club right now. What does a coach need to do in moments like this to ensure players stay focused?
“We are all completely focused, we aren’t thinking about anything else. These sorts of games are the ones players are all motivated to play in. I don’t need to do anything to motivate the players, they are all well aware that this is an important moment and they come here with confidence and optimism. The team is ready to play against a tough opponent like Sevilla.”

How difficult will it be without Chris Smalling, and how much has Roger Ibanez improved?
“Chris was a very important player for us, but he’s not here with us now. We need to focus on those who are here. I have complete confidence in all the players here for tomorrow’s game. Clearly Ibanez will start in Smalling’s place, he was playing well before his injury and I have total faith in him.”

Could tomorrow’s game be one of the most important of your career?
“It’s a different type of game – if you don’t win, you go home. We don’t have two legs, we just have one. Every game is important to me, I always want to win. Tomorrow’s game is no different. It’s an important match for us, but the target is the same as the others.”

(Photo Getty Images)


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