Fonseca: ‘Absurd fixture list’

Paulo Fonseca feels Roma “showed quality under pressure” to knock Gent out of the Europa League, but he’s furious at the “absurd” fixture list.

The first leg had ended 1-0 thanks to Carles Perez, so Jonathan David’s goal had them all level on aggregate, but a Justin Kluivert away strike proved decisive in the Round of 32 tie.

“It’s not easy to play this type of game,” insisted Fonseca in his press conference.

“Gent played well, but we showed quality under pressure. We left too many spaces in the first half, so I preferred our approach in the second. Our plan to hit them on the break wasn’t really working, as the pitch was in such bad condition and slowed the ball down.

“Let’s not forget that Gent are unbeaten at home in all competitions this season. They are a very physical side, have direct tactics, and are tough to take on here.

“As for us, it’s difficult to find stability when there are so many injuries, as we are constantly forced to make changes.”

Henrikh Mkhitaryan again made a big impression, providing the assist for Kluivert’s goal.

“Having players with this kind of experience is very important, especially at this moment of the season. I think his best role is as a trequartista, playing with two wider men by his side.”

Fonseca complained about the Serie A fixture list, as Roma will travel back to Italy for a trip to Cagliari on Sunday.

“I think it’s all a matter of television schedules. It’s extremely difficult to recover players so quickly, especially after playing on a pitch like this. It’s under 72 hours between games and I don’t understand why we are not playing on Monday. It’s absurd and the players are feeling the strain.”

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