Luciano Spalletti praised his side's resilience and mental strength after delivering an emphatic win over Fiorentina on Tuesday night. Following a league defeat at Sampdoria and unconvincing TIM Cup victory over Serie B side Cesena, there had been some fears that the Giallorossi were beginning to lose their way. But the team made that talk look foolish at the Stadio Olimpico, as they romped to a 4-0 victory thanks to two goals from Edin Dzeko and further strikes from Federico Fazio and Radja Nainggolan. "With this performance tonight, our players have gone and shown everyone what Roma are about," the boss concluded.
Edin Dzeko is on 17 league goals now. Do you have another message for him?
“I don't need say anything to him tonight because he's on a high and everyone is behind him again. Then when he misses a chance, they all abandon him. There's no need to say anything to him tonight because he'll get plenty of positive messages after a game like this.”
It was a very energetic Roma display, both mentally and physically:
“Yes, and that's the most important thing for us to emphasise. The players responded well and they've beaten away any doubts that may have been creeping in about what Roma are capable of. With this performance tonight, our players have gone and shown everyone what Roma are about. People were doubting us and insinuating things about our performances. It can be hard to deal with certain situations here. But these lads are made of stern stuff and they responded. We played a physical game and showed character. After the 30-minute mark we went and chased them high up the pitch. [Antonio] Rudiger and [Kostas] Manolas were aggressive and didn't give our opponents an inch. My players won the physical battles tonight.”
You've now won 14 straight games at the Olimpico and tonight you took three points off tricky opposition:
“We're having an excellent season, like Napoli, whereas Juventus are doing even better. It's our duty to keep on trying right till the end. There are times in sport when you might suffer a loss of form and we have 12 games in 40 days. We all saw what happened in the Super Bowl. When your rivals ease off you have to be ready to step up. We must be professional. We'll be back at the training ground tomorrow morning and we'll show the players how determined they were in every single duel in this match. Then we'll try to produce a repeat performance of tonight on Sunday."
How do you manage to get the best out of a player like Radja Nainggolan playing him in the hole, which is not his natural position?
“If you offer Radja the chance to score more goals, he'll go up there and play with conviction, because people always place more emphasis on scoring. It wasn't hard to get the message across to him: it's harder to tell someone they have to track back and do more running. Radja is strong, he brings the ball down and cuts inside without getting pulled about by the holding midfielders. He's tricky to pick up and he can play a killer pass too. Of course he occasionally takes it a bit easy and stays up but he has the ability and the engine to track back and win balls as he did tonight. At times he's like an extra man for us.”