EDF: ‘Roma must respect Qarabag’

Eusebio Di Francesco said Roma “must have great respect for Qarabag. If you don’t add determination to quality, every game is difficult.”

It kicks off in Baku on Wednesday at 17.00 UK time (16.00 GMT).

The Giallorossi drew their opener 0-0 with Atletico Madrid, while Qarabag were crushed 6-0 at Stamford Bridge by Chelsea.

“Too many things are taken for granted, instead we must have great respect for Qarabag and their history. I can assure you it will not be an easy game,” said the Coach in his Press conference.

“Madatov is a player with great quality, a marvellous foot and fierce shot from distance. I am curious to see him in action, but I am here to win the game with my team. I know Qarabag have interesting players who can hurt us in attack.”

Roma found their form in Serie A over the last couple of weeks, but made short work of Verona and Benevento.

“We have to raise the tempo and our level is growing as the season goes on. I don’t think there are weaker sides in Serie A than any other major league, as there is always this gap and some teams that cannot compete with the bigger clubs.”

Several of the Giallorossi players are finding their feet and adapting to Di Francesco’s 4-3-3 approach.

“We made the decision to have two players per position, so squad rotation is only to be expected over the course of the campaign and everyone will get their playing time.

“Stephan El Shaarawy went through a growth process and recently he’s seemed in really good shape. His role requires a lot of energy and this is why I often change the wingers.

“Gregoire Defrel can play as a right winger or a centre-forward, so I evaluate the players based on training and the game we are facing.

“I can confirm Edin Dzeko and Aleksandar Kolarov will start. We have a superior quality level to Qarabag, but if we don’t add determination and aggression, every game will be difficult.”

Di Francesco was asked if he would swap Dzeko for Lazio centre-forward Ciro Immobile, who is on sparkling form so far this season.

“Obviously I prefer Dzeko. They have different characteristics, anyway, as Immobile can be a centre-forward or a support striker, moving all along the front line. Edin is a real presence in the box and when you’re in trouble, he knocks the ball down.”