De Rossi: ‘Spain like a final for Italy’

Daniele De Rossi says the Spain game is “like a final” for Italy, and enjoys Roma being “under the Scudetto radar”.

The Azzurri take on La Roja in Madrid on Saturday night, and the midfielder spoke in a Press conference at Coverciano today.

“They’re favourites, but we’ll play with courage, we’re not lambs to the slaughter. We can pull off a small coup,” De Rossi said.

“The fear you get playing at the Bernabeu is the same as at San Siro, though maybe the fear could be there for the very young.

“We have good personality though and we know what we want to do on the pitch.

“We’ll finish at least second, so we’ve shown our value on the pitch.

“There’s nothing to lose against Spain but it’s a final for us. It’s difficult to play for top spot. We’re playing for a lot, as the play-offs are filled with pitfalls.

“We’ll try to face this match with the right attitude, while at the same time being careful.

“There will be time to do everything. We don’t need to win in the first 10 minutes, and I’ll look at how I and my teammates approach this match.

“This is almost a starter for the World Cup, so we’ll have an eye on how to react to it. It’s almost like the first round of the World Cup.

“This is going to be my last World Cup, but that’s not why I’m really focused on this.

“You start thinking about the World Cup two years in advance, I hope to get to my fourth World Cup, while there are people who are dreaming of making it to one.

“On a human level it would be another fantastic experience.”

De Rossi was also asked about Roma’s Scudetto hopes, and is pleased that many are tipping them to struggle to repeat last season.

“In Rome we make predictions in advance too often. This year we’ve started off under the Scudetto radar, whereas at Roma we’re always the future champions.

“I like being under the radar, because we’re always champions in July and this time it’s not the case.

“All of this can’t hurt, even if it wasn’t easy after the KO with Inter. There’s a lot of work to be done. Patrik Schick is a great player. Let’s make fewer predictions and look forward.”

The Giallorossi captain is one of the Azzurri’s veterans, and he was asked about the development of Marco Verratti.

“At 25 we’re seeing what a baller he is,” De Rossi said.

“He’s a player of absolute class, regardless of whether he’s playing 10 yards further forward or not.

“He’ll need to get used to more roles, given the characteristics of his team. For us he’s more important in terms of finding angles and for the final ball.

“Maybe with Paris Saint-Germain and all those phenomena he’s not the absolute best, but he’s still very strong.”

Finally, De Rossi was asked about VAR, the hot topic of the moment.

“You can be disadvantaged in one game, but in the long run it’ll help and it’ll limit the mistakes to a very low number.

“It needs everyone to agree, like in basketball.

“I still haven’t experienced VAR on the pitch, I asked [Massimiliano] Irrati ‘is ours broken?'”