Coach Luciano Spalletti was pleased to see his players overcome an early "wobble" to secure a comfortable 2-0 victory over Crotone on Sunday. Radja Nainggolan and Edin Dzeko grabbed the goals for the visitors, securing the three points despite Dzeko's early penalty miss. The coach acknowledged that potential early turning point in the contest, suggesting his team showed the right response to that setback: “Our goal was to ensure our opponents didn’t grow in confidence, because their fans can really get behind the team and they play good football," Spalletti said. "We had a wobble with the missed penalty, but then we took charge of the game and controlled it.”
Do you agree that Leandro Paredes has a tendency to hold onto the ball a bit too much?
“I’ve not really helped him because I’ve not let him play regularly, but he’s a player that needs to convince himself that he belongs at a big club, even when he’s not playing all the time. He has the ability to burst forward suddenly and use his passing to find an outlet for us.”
Only Sampdoria have managed to find the net against you in the last six games – is defensive solidity the trademark quality of this side?
“We have a great team and we have the ability to mix up what we’ve been doing recently. It’s definitely helped us to have three centre-backs with pace and physical presence. [Toni] Rudiger, [Kostas] Manolas and [Federico] Fazio know their jobs inside out, plus we have other players out at the moment who can come in for them. Right now we want to continue in the same vein – it’s their quality that’s making all the difference.”
Mohamed Salah looks fighting fit after the Africa Cup of Nations:
“It’s great to have him back – he’s showed what he can do straight away. When he has the ball at his feet he bears down on you and when you try to tackle him he skips away like he did for the second goal. Any team would love to have a player with that ability and now that we have him back we don’t want to let him go again!”
What kind of game are you expecting against Villarreal?
“It’ll be a really hard match at a tough stadium. It was important that we won today, especially because it’ll be quite a similar atmosphere on Thursday. We produce a mature performance and controlled the play, which is great preparation for our next game. We did our job today and we want to do it again on Thursday.”
Do you agree that Radja Nainggolan is one of the best midfielders in Italy and probably Europe?
“That’s his level. He’s fantastic – a top player. If he maintains his physical and mental level then he will give us a massive boost. People have tried to create controversy around him in recent days, but he’s always said that he loves Roma and wants to stay. He’s a great player and a good guy. Players like that are always in the spotlight.”