Coach Eusebio Di Francesco acknowledged that a combination of injuries and tiredness caught up with Roma on Sunday, as they drew 1-1 with Inter Milan. The Nerazzurri equalised with just five minutes remaining at the San Siro, after Stephan El Shaarawy had give Di Francesco's side the lead just after the half-hour mark. Speaking after the game, the coach acknowledged that the side did not quite have the intensity to see out the match.
"We played very well for 65 to 70 minutes, but then the team began to drop off physically and I didn’t have many options in midfield," Di Francesco said. "The injuries to Gerson and [Stephan] El Shaarawy influenced my tactical decisions. We got ourselves too deep and weren’t pushing forward like we were before. It’s a shame because we played very well at the start of the game – we should have taken greater advantage of our dominance in the first half."
He added: "We’re a bit disappointed with the draw. Despite our issues with central midfielders, we came here to win the game and take home the three points. We’ve definitely got less than we’ve deserved so far this season – that was the case in the first game against Inter too. Having said that, at times we only have ourselves to blame and that was the case today."
Edin Dzeko worked really hard for the team again today. Is he still a central part of the Roma project?
"He is, yes. He’s an important player for us, but if you want me to talk about the transfer market all I can say is that I’m not the person you need to be asking. Let’s not talk about it. I will pick players for as long as they are available to me. I’m not responsible for transfers, though there are areas where I work with the sporting director. Dzeko is a Roma player and he’s an important one. He’s always been a starter so that speaks volumes about how important he is."
Roma did well for an hour, but do you need greater attention to detail when the tiredness creeps in?
"Our big mistake today was the fact that we didn’t push our midfielders and wide players up the field, despite having five at the back. I knew they wanted to take advantage of the width provided by their full-backs, so I wanted to make us a bit more solid by playing with an additional centre-back. We needed to man mark better on their goal – that’s especially true when you’re playing as a back three. The main thing is that one of the two players outside of the area needs to get tight to the wide player – we didn’t do that any Inter punished us."
There was real aggression to your play in the first half. How pleased were you with Kevin Strootman’s performance?
"Strootman tends to drop deep and pick up the ball near to the defensive line when he plays in central midfield, which I don’t like. It’s a position that allows him to show the aggressive side to his game more and I think he did a good job. We won the ball back well in the first half, but we lacked clarity of thought. That came through at the end too."
Would you make the same substitutions again?
"Definitely. If you look at the players I had on the bench that was all I could do. I had two centre-backs or two full-backs to choose from. I put Bruno Peres on in place of El Shaarawy because [Alessandro] Florenzi is the only one who can play as the third central midfielder, so I pushed him up. Those were the decisions I made – maybe I’ll look at it again next time."
What did you make of Radja Nainggolan’s performance? Are you worried he’ll go abroad?
"There is no chance there – it’s obvious that Radja is staying. We all know why he didn’t play the last game. I’m delighted with his performances, but he can do even better. I played him further forward today and I was happy with him. He could have been even more incisive at times, but he’s a top player."