Fonseca: ‘Brave Roma in the derby’

Paulo Fonseca concedes he has “no real alternatives” in his Roma line-up against rivals Lazio, but “must play with courage, show initiative and dominate the game.”

It kicks off on Sunday at 17.00 GMT, click here for the full match report.

Over a thousand fans flocked to the training ground this afternoon to motivate the players ahead of the Derby della Capitale.

“I am happy to see the support of our fans, as that is so important for us. They have supported us constantly and we must fight to give them a good game to celebrate,” said the coach in his press conference.

“The good news is that we have Diego Perotti and Javier Pastore back in the squad. They aren’t ready to start, but will be on the bench.”

Lazio famously play with a three-man defence, but Fonseca assured Roma will stick with their traditional four at the back.

“We’ll see who plays between Leonardo Spinazzola, Aleksandar Kolarov and Davide Santon. I can also say that Justin Kluivert hasn’t trained very much and was very tired against Juventus midweek, so he had to play because we had no other options. I think tomorrow we’ll see a different Kluivert.”

Amadou Diawara is the latest addition to the injury list, although it remains to be seen if he will require knee surgery.

“Bryan Cristante will play, it’s his third game in a row after the injury, which is not ideal, but we have no other alternatives. Using Gianluca Mancini in midfield isn’t the same and forces me to make another two changes.

“The team that plays better has more of a shot at victory. If we put ourselves in the hands of fate, it’s a much higher risk of defeat. I believe a side that plays with courage, shows initiative and dominates the game will always be closer to victory.

“I always play to win and that’s difficult in Serie A against anyone, whether it’s SPAL or Juventus. We lost two games to Juve lately in Serie A and the Coppa Italia, but I am proud of our performance, because we played, attacked, showed a clear identity and created chances. That is what counts.”

A banner appeared outside the Trigoria training ground this morning with a cruel message referring to ‘lame’ Nicolò Zaniolo, with picture of a wheelchair.

It also referenced Roma player of the 1970s Francesco Rocca, whose career was cut short by a series of knee operations.

“Whoever made that banner is not someone who loves football,” replied Fonseca.

“Lazio are stronger right now because they are in third place, we are in fourth and must prove on the field head-to-head that we too are strong.

“We intend to defend with a high line. If Lazio play very well and force us to defend deeper for periods of the game, that’s a different matter, but the intention is to defend very high.”

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