Luciano Spalletti has spoken in the build-up to Friday’s match between Roma and Fiorentina.
What are you most wary of when it comes to Fiorentina?
“What they’ve been doing for 3-4 years now, plus what Paulo Sousa has brought. I was reading the interview with [Milan] Badelj this morning. He said they’ve created a work of art and that’s true. They play a modern, exciting brand of football, they’re a tough, solid side and they know they have real potential. If you analyse the group of clubs which includes Fiorentina, they’ve done the best work out of them.”
Will [Radja] Nainggolan and [Miralem] Pjanic be available for selection?
“Pjanic and Ninaggolan are available. Iago Falque has a spot of fever and it’s unlikely he’ll train today. [Daniele] De Rossi is continuing his recovery programme and won’t be in my squad.”
How likely is [Edin] Dzeko to start tomorrow?
“There are still some things I need to weigh up and I’ll take as much time as I can on this occasion. He did well off the bench against Empoli, he’s looked good in training but so have the team as a whole. I can’t answer your question at this moment in time.”
Do you see parallels between Roma and Fiorentina?
“Yes, they’re similar sides because both try to control the tempo with lots of ball-playing midfielders and the ability to read the play. They’re good at everything, anticipating how the opposition will set up, with the flexibility to move the ball as a three and defend with four. They’re able to threaten and get the edge based on how their opponents approach the game. We’ll need to be better than ever against them. While they believe they have created a work of art, I must say my players have produced a masterpiece – in turning things around, taking on board a new approach, having belief and the mental strength to think that they can compete until the end of the season, without getting hung up on a result or performance.”
Were you able to talk with James Pallotta?
“I said hello and we had a chat. He seemed happy, full of enthusiasm and ready to show what he’s about. He came to speak to us before our technical meeting – he chatted with the players, watched training and was with us in the dressing room. He’s got bags of enthusiasm and desire and that matches up to what’s been said thus far. He’s right to want to keep improving – you always need to be brave enough to push yourself. He always finds stimuli and incentives.”
Can Edin Dzeko help to neutralise Fiorentina’s high pressing game?
“They’re sure to come out to press us and they’ll be able to change their style according to the way we play too. In Florence they’ve spent months discussing whether Fiorentina play with a three-man, four-man or five-man defence – it shows they have a great coach capable of mixing the team up during a match. They have great flexibility and interchangeability. They have two fantastic midfielders sitting in front of the defence in Milan Badelj and Matias Vecino, there there’s Borja Valero, Federico Bernardeschi, Nikola Kalinic, Cristian Tello, Josip Ilicic… They have lots of top players and they’re managing to turn the quality of their players and coach into end product. Playing long balls up for Dzeko is something we could adopt and something we did at Empoli – we’ll keep it in mind and tomorrow we’ll see what happens.”
Are there similarities in Federico Bernardeschi and Stephan El Shaarawy’s development?
“Bernardeschi and El Shaarawy are similar players and both have fantastic potential. In all things, there is a start point and an end point – it’s the bit in between that counts. If you want to analyse what you’re doing – every challenge, every duel with every opponent – and if you react in the right way then you have a chance of getting to the finish line in a better position than when you started. Both players are doing that thus far".