Luciano Spalletti believes there is plenty of work to do on Roma’s mentality and level of performance after they were beaten 2-0 by Real Madrid at the Bernabeu on Tuesday night.
“You always need to accept reality. 2-0 in the first leg and 2-0 in the second leg means Real Madrid deserve to go through. We need to improve our mentality, our clinical streak and our belief. We’re still weak in those areas – there’s not much you can do. It’s not like Real Madrid are having a fantastic time of late – they’re not as irresistible as they have been. I could congratulate my players on their performance, but that would be living a fairy tale and not facing up to reality. We’re Roma but we have to play like Roma – we should come to these grounds to show people who we are. We need to improve quickly because it’s not OK. We must do better.”
What was the team lacking tonight?
“We needed to show mental strength and not lose our way when things got tough. We needed to help ourselves and meet the challenges. I think we did OK tonight. After the second goal I wouldn’t have been surprised if we’d gone on to concede a load of goals like we have done in the past, even with me in the dugout. We need to adopt a totally different mentality.”
How can you make that step up in quality?
“When I go into the dressing room after a 2-0 defeat and see the players feeling satisfied because they’re going to be congratulated on their performance, that doesn’t sit right with me. We should be angry – maybe we’ve not yet realised what a big chance we’ve thrown away over the course of this tie. There are some matches that go down in footballing history forever and give you a shortcut to success, but you have to try to make them happen. The regret is there when you don’t play these matches with conviction and belief – that’s what we were lacking over this tie with Real. We need to face up to the result and not allow ourselves to be patted on the back because that’ll be even more damaging.”
What did you think of the Bernabeu’s ovation for Francesco Totti?
“I think they were right to do it. This stadium has always recognised the quality and the history of certain players. Francesco Totti deserved the ovation because of the way he’s conducted his career. The Bernabeu crowd is a crowd that is able to recognise that and give a fitting tribute. Well done to both.”