UEFA Europa League


Paulo Fonseca faced the media in Kiev on Wednesday evening, ahead of the return match against Shakhtar Donetsk this week.

The Giallorossi face the Ukrainian side in the second leg of their Europa League last-16 tie on Thursday evening. Kick-off is at 18:55 CET.

Here's what the boss had to say, as he prepares to go up against his old side once again.

Are you worried about the goal drought your strikers seem to be going through right now?

“The main thing is that the team scores and that the strikers work hard in order to help that happen. Both things are happening, so for that reason I’m not worried.”

Luis Castro spoke of the friendship between you two in his press conference. How did that friendship begin?

“We’ve known each other for years, since we were at Porto. During the first leg we spoke both before and after the game – it was nice to see him again.”

Tomorrow will you be focused on being secure defensively, or do you want to win the game?

“We want to win. It will be important to defend well, but we want to score too. We are not coming here just to shut up shop.”

You spent a lot of time at Shakhtar: can you give us three key moments during your time here?

“That’s tough. I had some great moments here. I won leagues, cups – there were a lot of great moments. The happiest moments are tied to the wins, but there were a lot of great moments personally too. It’s hard to pick.”

Given that you have a three-goal lead in this one, will you try to save some energy for the league?

“It’s true that we got a good result in Rome, but we also know how good Shakhtar are. I know the character the side possesses, and they will want to get back into this tie and turn it around. We need to make sure we pay attention in order to avoid any nasty surprises.”

Is this a bit of a homecoming for you?

“Yes, it is really. My wife is Ukrainian, so is my son. I have a great relationship with people here in Ukraine.”

How did your wife react to the first leg result?

“As you all know she is a big Shakhtar fan, but when I got home she was happy for me. She wanted Roma to win, just like I did. However, whenever we can we watch Shakhtar games together at home – and we are always hoping they do well.”

Were you interested in Yaremchuk in the January transfer window?

“No, that’s not true. I know the player, but there’s nothing more to it than that. A lot of stories like that come out around here, about Ukrainian players of interest, but it wasn’t the case.”

Taison is out of contract in the summer. Could Roma be one of the clubs after him?

“Shakhtar have a lot of players capable of doing well in Italy. It’s true that in the past there was some interest in Taison, but there's nothing in that rumour now.”

Have Roma trained for the possibility of a penalty shootout? Right now, are Shakhtar or Roma a better side?

“Yes, we have practised penalties in training like we usually do.

“As for the second question, it’s hard for me to make that assessment. As I’ve already said, Shakhtar are a really good side: they won against Real Madrid twice, they drew with Inter Milan twice, in the last game they won 4-0 against a decent opponent. However, I need to stay focused on my team, on a difficult game, and ensuring we keep our concentration – because they will want to turn the tie around.”

(Photo Getty Images)