UEFA Champions League


Coach Eusebio Di Francesco faced the media at the Luzhniki Stadium on Tuesday afternoon, ahead of the Champions League meeting with CSKA Moscow.

Will you pick a more conservative team, with Alessandro Florenzi pushed up, or are you planning to attack from the off?

"Regardless of whether Florenzi plays further forward or deeper, the line-up is not the thing that makes the difference in terms of aggression. I believe that regardless of the option I go for, our mentality must remain the same. We need to make sure we take control of the game and then figure out where we need to change things during the match. We need to have that desire to hurt our opponents".

You’ve made lots of changes to the midfield this season. Why is that?

"I saw we were struggling to exert pressure and get players close to Dzeko. We were hanging back too much and struggling to counter. We’ve improved the way we link up now. Lorenzo Pellegrini was one that had a very good game in Florence, creating the offensive triangles. We were able to escape the Fiorentina press well and it meant that there was another player closer to Dzeko, which allowed him to try different things during the game – something he likes. Let’s hope that means he can score a few more goals, not just in the Champions League but in Serie A TIM too".

Apart from the cold, what are the biggest issues involved in tomorrow’s game?

"We intentionally came a day earlier so that we could adapt to the climate. In terms of the game, I think they make good use of the two attacking midfielders and the striker in terms of stretching the team. They have quality players, they’re dangerous and they showed that against Real Madrid. That said, we need to play even better than we did in Rome – we need to seize control of the game in the early stages. They were really aggressive against Madrid, especially at the start of the game, and they were able to get their goal. We need to expect the same sort of approach against us. There’ll be a lot of fans there too".

Can you ever get used to all the ups and downs you’re experiencing?

"We’ve had lots of ups and downs this season but I would like to change that back. We need to continue to believe in what we’re doing and focus on securing big results. Dzeko has spoken about Schick, underlining the fact that a goal can change the dynamic for a player – and it’s the same for a team. A win would restore our confidence. We came close – look at Napoli. Results will help us to pull it back. I’m calm in my work and my main focus in on preparing for the game tomorrow".

(Photo Getty Images)