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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