Serie A TIM

SPALLETTI: "WE STILL NEED TO UP THE LEVEL A BIT"

Coach Luciano Spalletti hailed Edin Dzeko and Federico Fazio's importance to the side in the wake of Sunday's 1-0 win over Cagliari. The victory, which saw the Giallorossi equal a club record of 13 successive home league victories, was clinched by Dzeko in the 55th minute, as he muscled his defender off the ball to steer home Antonio Rudiger's cross. At the other end, Fazio once again marshalled a strong defensive performance - as Roma kept a fourth straight clean sheet.

“To start with we weren’t playing fantastically well," Spalletti noted. "We couldn’t find the right openings because they were very intense in midfield. We made a few changes but we weren’t quite ourselves. That said, the team was always balanced, stayed organised and didn’t panic. The chances came. We could see that if we stayed calm we would get the lead eventually.”

Were you a bit short in when you got to the opposition box?
“We attacked but we weren’t very ruthless when we got to the opposition area. We perhaps lacked bodies to finish some moves off. That was something we had previously thought about, as a way of avoiding counter attacks from the opposition. They kept two guys on half way, ready to break when the chance arose. Two or three times our defence did well, getting into the right positions and keeping them at arm’s length. Either way we brought our game to them and won deservedly.”

Is it a three-horse race for the Scudetto?
“There are other teams that have time to recover. Inter are certainly on the up. Milan play lovely football. Napoli just won a very tough game. There are lots of games still to be played and there is a long way to go. We need to carry on doing our jobs, to keep our heads and to keep picking up wins like these. Sometimes games like this look like a formality, but against certain opponents you’re always going to have some difficulties.”

Another goal from Edin Dzeko. How did he do today?
“I thought he did well; he played well on Thursday. He’s a player that’s becoming crucial for us. When teams drop and stay tight, he’s the only one who can truly threaten in the air. The guys who play around him do not have the same physical attributes. When you’re up against four or five defenders in the area and you can’t find a break through, an attacker needs to harness his physical strength.”

You found it hard to find space in the first half?
“We switched the play often and when we lost the ball we didn’t have enough men high up the pitch to counter press. In the first 45 minutes, they made us move the ball around. I tried to push [Antonio] Rudiger up, giving us a fourth option to the right of the pitch, but it left us more exposed to potential counter-attacks. In the second half we put in a good performance. The three central defenders gave nothing away. They did well to clean up every situation. A few of the players were still feeling the effects of Thursday’s game but they stayed calm and we bagged a very important result, particularly given the fact that Cagliari have been doing well up until now.”

Federico Fazio has found his stride. His timing is very good; he can also start moves off. Is that added value for your Roma side?
“As a centre-back he always gets on the ball. He has time to come out and he’s good with the ball at his feet. He organises the back line. He was a holding midfielder at the start of his career. He can play nice crisp passes. He doesn’t let us down with what he offers. Right now we couldn’t get by without him.”

Juve keep on winning...
“We just need to concentrate on what we are doing. We need to get results and keep on looking for wins. Then we’ll see what happens. Juventus are very strong; we all know that. When people say Roma have the means to compete with them, we need to show that it’s the case. We’re doing well and we need to keep going in this way. We need to up the ante a bit, compared to the first half today. At the end we’ll see how the ground lies.”

(Photo LaPresse)

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