Fonseca: ‘Roma must concentrate’

Paulo Fonseca urges Roma to stay ‘concentrated and focused’ on tomorrow’s meeting with Sampdoria, but won’t try a three-man defence yet.

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This is their first match back since the lockdown, but despite confessing to some experiments with a three-man defence in training, the coach insists they will start with four against Sampdoria.

“We tried out various systems and tomorrow we will not be playing with three at the back,” said Fonseca in his press conference.

“What’s important for me is the attitude, not the system.”

In this extended season due to the pandemic, Roma are in intensive negotiations with Manchester United and Arsenal to not only extend Chris Smalling and Henrikh Mkhitaryan loans to the end of the campaign, but also for the 2020-21 season.

“You all know already that we want Smalling and Mkhitaryan to stay. There is a good possibility, but the important thing now is that the players are focused on tomorrow.

“The same goes for the situation (with director of sport Gianluca Petrachi’s suspension), as this is the moment to do things together, concentrate and not get distracted.

“I see my future as the coach of Roma. You all know how much I love Rome and Roma, but the important thing is to focus on the present. We’ve never been off the field for this amount of time, it is a unique situation and we trained as if it was pre-season.”

Goalkeeper Pau Lopez is still out of action with a micro-fracture, so Antonio Mirante will start between the sticks, while Nicolò Zaniolo is ready to step up the training for his comeback soon.

“We had many injuries this season, but I am satisfied right now, as we have more options available and I can rotate the squad. It’s always satisfying for me to walk on to the training ground and see so many players giving me options to choose what’s best for Roma.”

Sampdoria were beaten 2-1 by Inter in Sunday’s rescheduled Week 25 fixture, but held Roma to a 0-0 draw at Marassi back in October.

“That was not a good performance and we had the wrong attitude. I think the team improved a lot after that game, but Ranieri has got Sampdoria really well organised, he is one of the best Italian coaches.”

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