Here's what Paulo Fonseca had to say after Thursday's 1-1 draw with Atalanta...
Bryan Cristante's 30-yard drive midway through the second half secured a point for the Giallorossi at the Stadio Olimpico.
Does this squad of players have its limitations?
“It’s hard to explain. Playing against a team like [Atalanta] is always tough. The truth is that we made some mistakes in key moments. Today we played well but we did not win. We played well – but we were also playing a really good side.”
Are you happy for the reaction the players showed in the second half, or more worried by those first 45 minutes?
“We shouldn’t forget that Atalanta have won nine of their last 10 games. We knew that it would be a tough game, but we decided to go for it anyway. We pressured them high up the pitch and didn’t let them build from the back.
"After they scored we went for it a bit more and they had some chances on the counter-attack to score goals. I think we made mistakes when we lost the ball, and also in some of the counter-marking. But it’s not easy to play Atalanta and we did better in the second half. The side showed determination.”
Did putting Bryan Cristante on Ruslan Malinovskiy change things for you?
“Yes. The truth is that Atalanta’s best chances then came on the counter-attack – we made some mistakes when we lost the ball in their half. But Cristante played really well.”
Could Edin Dzeko and Borja Mayoral not have played together more this season?
“We’ve tried it before, but it didn’t really work. The team isn’t prepared to play with two strikers on the pitch. I didn’t like how it functioned, to be honest.”
Is it an issue with understanding the tactical elements that come with that switch?
“No. You’d have to change the team’s approach. It’s not just about the two strikers, it’s also about the players in behind them – and that would change the overall identity the team has. What is more, I have to say that we have pretty much always had just one day to really prepare for each game, and that makes it tough to make bigger changes right now.”
Early on you seemed to have found the right approach – playing long into the spaces. But what happened after that, and who do you credit for that?
“That’s to Atalanta’s credit. I haven’t seen any teams go up against Atalanta and dominate the ball. They mark well, man-to-man, and it’s tough to get past that individual pressure. But I think we tried hard to do that today. It’s true that we didn’t create many chances in the first half – and that’s down to Atalanta’s quality.”
Do you still not like it when your team doesn’t have the ball?
“Yes. That’s a focus for us. Against Ajax – a great team – and against Torino we didn’t have much of the ball, and during the week we worked on that. Even in the first half we let Atalanta have too much of the ball, and that made things harder. For me, having the ball and controlling the game that way is always important.”
(Photo Getty Images)