Serie A TIM


Luciano Spalletti thought Roma performed well despite their home defeat to Real Madrid in the first leg of their Champions League last 16 tie, lacking a bit of good fortune. After the 2-0 loss at the Olimpico, the Giallorossi coached revealed how pleased he was with his side's display, stressing that - although work still needs to be done - the team are on the right track to finish the season strongly: "I told my players that we played well and were unlucky tonight. Obviously there's still work to be done - certain things didn't come off - but we played well and we're heading the in the right direction."

Is the applause from a full stadium of some consolation?
"Roma fans are used to seeing top players and great matches, so they choose when to boo or clap. They acted that way because they saw how much effort the lads put in and realised that we didn't get the rub of the green. We lay all the groundwork to get a good result because we played really well - especially in the first half - although we didn't take our chances."

What did you do well and not so well tonight?
"As I've said, we put in a great performance in the first half even though we didn't make the most of the balls we won back. We could have had an overload in midfield and given them more of a problem. We had opted to keep the ball more than them and when we won the ball back we were able to do so because we had numbers up. So, I think we could have managed the ball better because when it's in Real's court - given that we give a little away at the back - they can convert it into something big with the stars they have."

Do you still need to work on the defence?
"A little. The team became stretched after the opener and one of our issues is we drop too deep. At times we're a bit fearful and occasionally we sit too deep in midfield rather than attacking the oppposition. I'll say it again, besides that I saw a lot of positives in our display. As I've said, we have to work on a few things but we're on the right track."

Is there a problem with fitness?
"I'll choose not to address this, as if you start to discuss players' fitness, it then becomes tough to talk about anything else, as if you've given them an excuse. Clearly, we still have to improve a lot in our game but if I touch upon the physical side, I'll send a negative message to the players. As a coach, I must and want to rather talk to them about tactics."

(Photo LaPresse)