Coppa Italia

SPALLETTI: "WE HAVE TO STAY GROUNDED"

Luciano Spalletti hailed his side - particularly Radja Nainggolan - but insisted the team must keep their feet on the ground as they continued their recent run with a 4-0 win over Sampdoria. The Giallorossi moved into the quarter-finals of the TIM Cup on Thursday night, with another impressive and balanced display. While the coach admitted he was pleased with a number of aspects of the side's performance, he did not want them to get carried away.

Today's win means Roma are still challenging on all three fronts...
“We've been able to build on our recent results and we're looking quite good at the moment. I don't think there's an awful lot to get excited about today, though: Sampdoria put us under lots of pressure in the first half and shifted the ball about better than us. Afterwards we caused problems for them but it wasn't until the end of the first half that we were able to move the ball about quickly and string a few moves together. It took us too long.”

Are you happy with Mario Rui's showing?
“He played well, although we didn't get him involved as much as we could have. He might have had space. I took him off towards the end because he was a bit tired but he fared well.”

Is Radja Nainggolan one of the world's best midfielders?
“He's on another level – a great player who can play anywhere you put him. He needs space though because that's when he really comes into his element. If you pen him in, he finds it harder. When he's able to play on instinct, he becomes a real handful.”

Can we use 'Dzeko the Divine' as a headline today?
“Edin's a splendid player. I've said certain things to make the players understand that they must never be satisfied. He is divine because with the build he's got, with his height and his physique, it's not easy to be so graceful and well coordinated. He's a wonderful athlete to watch.”

Roma seem very fit at the moment...
“When you're picking up results you recover a day quicker. When enthusiasm is high everything seems to go your way, but Samp were better than us in the first half. They played at pace and stayed tight. If [Luis] Muriel's effort had gone in instead of hitting the post and Nainggolan hadn't scored then the first half would have been different. We might have won it in the second period anyway but they caused problems for us.”

Is this a key stage of the season for Roma?
“We're enjoying a decent spell. The players are in good physical and mental shape and we have a number of players on form. I'm not just talking about those who are starting games – the guys coming on are performing well too. There's a positive atmosphere about the place but we have to keep working hard and professionally because there are lots of very good, well-drilled sides out there. If you don't keep on your toes, you can very quickly fall flat on your face in this game. We have to stay grounded.”

Roma have stopped conceding goals. What's behind your new-found defensive solidity?
“We've have some big players who have recovered from injury like [Antonio] Rudiger. Juan Jesus has come along well too – he was immense today. He caught up with Muriel and won the ball off him – he did really well. Emerson has had the time a youngster needs to settle in. [Leo] Paredes is back and he can ping the ball about at incredible speed. We've already spoken about Nainggolan. Then there's [Federico] Fazio who commands the backline – he's an important player. The whole team is clicking now.”

You've scored 62 goals so far this season. Did you expect so many?
“We have a bit of quality but the city gives us an advantage. If you do things professionally, Rome can lend you a big hand. You sense the atmosphere is different: they hurl their enthusiasm at you and that makes it easier to become great players and be a great team. Adding all that in to a side that's playing well has enabled us to rack up those figures.”

(Photo LaPresse)

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