Gonalons: ‘Roma not tourists’

Maxime Gonalons assures Roma “are not going to Barcelona as tourists” for the Champions League quarter-final at Camp Nou.

The first leg kicks off on Wednesday at 19.45 UK time (18.45 GMT).

“We are not going to Barcelona as tourists, that is for sure, otherwise we may as well have stayed at home,” the French midfielder told AFP.

“It’s a two-legged tie and we have to remember the second leg is on our own turf. We need to be intelligent in our approach, so we can play the home leg in the best possible conditions.

“There’s a lot at stake for a club that hadn’t reached this level for 10 years. It’s a sign of great maturity for Roma and when we speak to the fans, we understand that a side like this must win titles again.”

Roma have reason to feel confident at the Stadio Olimpico, as in four Champions League home fixtures this season, Alisson Becker is yet to concede.

“Alisson is one of the best goalkeepers in Europe. What he does in the match and in training shows his talent. If he is first choice for Brazil, it’s no coincidence. He’s only 25 years old and has an immense future ahead of him.

“Edin Dzeko is capable of scoring at any moment and Daniele De Rossi is an exceptional player, both on and off the field. I was aware of the difficulties when I signed on to join Roma, realising De Rossi is an icon and ahead of me in the pecking order, but I am not frightened by the challenge.”

De Rossi took over the captain’s armband from Francesco Totti, who retired last summer after 25 years at the club.

“Totti is a God here. He played 25 seasons as a professional and when you are a player, you realise how incredible that is. He played almost 800 games, scored nearly 300 goals. It’s incredible.

“It’s a real pleasure to still have him around, as he always has a kind word and a smile for us.”

Gonalons had been hoping to become an icon at Lyon, but left for a new challenge at Roma.

“When you spend 17 years in the same club and go to a different country, league and club, with a different culture, language and tactics, it’s all rather strange. I am very happy and proud of my choice and it helped me develop, as at Lyon we weren’t that focused on tactics, whereas in Italy they are very picky.”

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