Nainggolan: ‘Deserved victory’

Radja Nainggolan felt Tottenham Hotspur were “lucky” to be in front, so the Inter comeback gave them a “deserved” victory.

Christian Eriksen’s shot took a massive deflection off Joao Miranda to loop over Samir Handanovic, but a Mauro Icardi volley and Matias Vecino header turned it all around in this Champions League opener.

“It’s a deserved result, because we played very well,” Nainggolan told Sky Sport Italia.

“We conceded against the run of play and it was a lucky goal from them, but unlike our performances in Serie A so far this season, we picked up the tempo in the second half and did really well.”

Nainggolan reached the Champions League semi-final last season with Roma, so has advice for his new teammates.

“We’ve got a strong squad and must continue working hard to achieve our potential. It’s important to get the win in every game, because you only progress with three points and not one at a time.

“Personally, I am a little behind schedule because I was out for so long in pre-season, but playing also helps me to regain my form.”

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De Rossi: ‘Roma can do it again’

Captain Daniele De Rossi sees no reason Roma can’t repeat last season’s Champions League heroics – “last year, in theory, the group was even tougher…”

The Giallorossi reached the semi-finals of the competition last year, before being beaten 7-6 on aggregate in a thrilling tie against Liverpool.

Today the midfielder sat alongside Coach Eusebio Di Francesco at the Press conference ahead of the Real Madrid match, and was asked if those feats could be repeated.

“Why not?” De Rossi asked.

“Last year, in theory, the group was even tougher. Of course we’ll need great commitment and consistency to repeat it, and obviously the enthusiasm that comes with winning.

“The start to the season? We’re the first to demand more of ourselves, but we’re at the start of a new season and the Roma you saw against Barcelona is the same as now.

“We were criticised for setbacks last season but it ended satisfactorily, although without trophies.

“Maybe tomorrow we can go out and get a positive result that will give us our confidence back and allow us to return to being strong.

“The criticism is normal when you don’t win, in Rome they want everything right away.

“Di Francesco, in his first year in top football, took us to the Champions League semi-final and he has a precise philosophy which brought us those results.

“Right now he’s not happy, none of us are, but questioning the Coach goes no further than other arguments of similar value.

“Even [Inter’s Luciano] Spalletti is being questioned now, but that’s normal.”

The veteran was then asked about the feeling of playing at the Bernabeu.

“It’s different from other stadiums, there are special emotions here. It could be the last time I play here, so it’ll be emotional but there’s a big game to play.

“We need to get a result, and if we succeed it would be an honour.”

The Giallorossi captain defied the new Serie A rule on personalised armbands, but while Fiorentina have been granted an exemption, he has not.

“What bothers me is that only I and the Fiorentina players are left, I have different reasons to keep my own armband,” De Rossi explained.

“There was no need to have this rule, football has other, more important problems. I’ve heard from many people who think this rule is wrong, I’ve heard from Costacurta and Tommasi who agree with me and will try to change this rule.

“I must respect my colleagues from Fiorentina who have a different motivation to me, and I’ll comply with what the Lega says.

“But I do it solely out of respect for Fiorentina, who suffered something terrible and remember Davide [Astori] in this way.”

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EDF: ‘Roma need enthusiasm’

Eusebio Di Francesco wants to see Roma find “a little enthusiasm and freedom” in the Champions League against Real Madrid, but his picks “could surprise you.”

It kicks off tomorrow at the Bernabeu at 20.00 UK time (19.00 GMT).

A boost is needed in Europe after a stuttering Serie A start, but they face the side that won the tournament three times in a row.

“It’s up to us to find different solutions to get out of this situation. We need a little enthusiasm and freedom. I want to see a Roma side out to play its kind of football,” said the Coach in his Press conference.

Real Madrid smashed Champions League records, but also sold star man Cristiano Ronaldo to Juventus.

“In my view, they are less likely now to slow the tempo down. They have moved from 4-3-3 to 4-2-3-1, but haven’t lost their quality. I just say we must focus on an improved defensive performance, as that’s what we have been lacking recently.

“Real Madrid don’t have Ronaldo, but they still have strong players like Marco Asensio. I think it’s safe to say Real Madrid are known as a team and not just for having Cristiano Ronaldo.

“If I were to take someone off Real Madrid, it’d be Sergio Ramos. He is a defender, a midfielder and a striker, all at the same time. He can do everything.”

Di Francesco hinted at possible changes to his line-up and even formation in Madrid.

“I could surprise you… I know it’ll be a great game and a dangerous one, but it’s also one we want to experience to the full. I hope that the Roma soul will light up again tomorrow, because aside from systems and tactics, we need to improve our attitude during the game.

“Our mentality has to be keeping it tight and not getting stretched out. We are the first to believe we can follow last season’s march to the semi-final, but it’ll depend on our performances.”

Di Francesco was asked if Justin Kluivert could be in the starting XI.

“It’s an issue of growth, he has to improve in his movements and tactical concepts. He has immense potential and will be useful in the long run, but telling you now he’ll play an impressive Champions League campaign is premature. I can confirm Diego Perotti will be on the bench.”

Juventus winger Douglas Costa was given a four-match Serie A ban today for spitting at Sassuolo winger Federico Di Francesco.

The son of Roma Coach Eusebio Di Francesco also denied he had said anything racist to provoke the reaction.

“I am indignant for what they said to Federico. He was the only one who was spat at and the only one not to get an apology. I am proud of Federico, he behaved like a great man and the way he’s been treated is absurd.

“On social media they almost made Douglas Costa into a victim. There were even some people who wished death upon me and my son.”

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Monchi: Kluivert an ‘investment’

Monchi admits ‘the Monchi of Sevilla doesn’t work at Roma’ but feels Justin Kluivert is an ‘investment’ for the club.

Monchi’s recruitment has come under fire after Roma’s poor start to the season, and the sporting director touched on several hot topics in an interview with El Mundo.

“If Real Madrid didn’t buy big after selling Cristiano Ronaldo then it’s because they already have the best players in their team: Isco, Bale, Benzema, Modric, Kross, Sergio Ramos, Marcelo and more,” he explained.

“Am I putting into practice what I learned at Sevilla in Rome? It took me only a few months to realise that the Monchi of Sevilla wouldn’t work at Roma.

“I had to find a new Monchi inside of me. I’m satisfied with the results we obtained in our first season together.

“The Roma fans are hugely passionate, comparable to those at Sevilla. You must keep that in mind when you put your policies in plan, but without avoiding unpopular decisions.

“Totti’s retirement was something that had to be addressed, and today Francesco has a big role at the club.

“Salah’s sale, however, was inevitable so we’d fall within the parameters of Financial Fair Play.

“Justin Kluivert? I think he’ll be an important player on the European stage: he’s an investment for us.”

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Totti: ‘Roma can cause problems’

Roma legend Francesco Totti believes “we’re facing the best team in the Champions League” in Real Madrid, but “when we’ve met them we’ve caused problems”.

The Giallorossi face the holders of the competition at the Bernabeu on Wednesday, and Er Pupone gave his thoughts to Roma TV ahead of the game.

“We all know that in Madrid it’s a different stadium to the others,” Totti, now a director at the club, said.

“Facing Real in the first match means maybe we can play a great game. Indeed, I’m sure we’ll play a great game because we have the team to do it, even though they’re Martians.

“We’ll need to be calm and have the right spirit, we have to be serene even though we know we’re facing the best team in the Champions League.

“Historically though, when we’ve met them we’ve caused problems.”

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