De Rossi

De Rossi: ‘There is everything to fear from Bayer, but my Roma have belief’


Daniele De Rossi says there is plenty to fear from Bayer Leverkusen, but has belief in his Roma team ahead of their Europa League clash. The Giallorossi host the Bundesliga champions at the Stadio Olimpico on Thursday evening, and De Rossi confirmed that Romelu Lukaku could be in the starting XI for the match:

“He has very little training under his belt, but he’s been out for a short time. We’ll take another day to evaluate. He seems to be quite well; perhaps today we’ll push a bit more and then decide. I still have some doubts. Smalling completed a full training session, and I hope and believe we can recover them both. We’ll see how we manage their minutes.” The coach then delved into analyzing the tactical aspect, addressing the possibility of deploying Llorente as a right-back: “As for Llorente on the right… it’s a possibility. We also assess it based on how others are doing; we try to consider everything.”

“Leverkusen? There’s everything to fear. The way they play, they have a long streak of results. I have a lot of respect for their coach. They have more work behind them with the same coach. There’s a lot to fear. One thing to respect is that they’re undefeated despite often trailing. In addition to being strong and playing well, they have awareness and tenacity until the last minutes. It’s something extra that I fear and respect about them, but there are many things. We often score late too. From this perspective, we are similar. Both teams will fight until the last second.” However, the Germans are still undefeated, and in Europe, their last defeat came at the Olimpico against Roma: “There’s a karma aspect; for those who believe, it can be a hope. I focus on preparing the match and my players. On the field, we’ll face a stronger and improved team. This year they have more awareness; they know they’re champions. They have a free mind and want to be champions in Europe too. The numbers show they’ve changed, but you just need to see them. It’s a fond memory; I hope it bothers them, but we focus on this match. We know they are stronger. They play well, have strong players, have one of the best coaches in the world, but they also have something great within. I don’t think being undefeated is a burden; I believe it’s a pride and a stimulus.” And regarding the individual qualities, De Rossi has no doubts: “They have a physical, solid team of great quality. There are Wirtz, Grimaldo. Schick has always been strong, but now he’s a man. Boniface is strong. They have strong substitutes. If Frimpong doesn’t play, there’s Tella. They have quality players but also great stamina. They know how to both play and be direct. They have built a truly strong team thanks to the coach’s ideas and several important acquisitions.” Naturally, compared to last year’s semifinal, the next two matches will be entirely different games: “Now we are focused on the first match, and then we’ll think about the return leg. We don’t think about last year’s matches because so much has changed. They are the same clubs, but they are different teams. They have greater awareness because they are now champions of Germany. They are unbeaten, but we can do it.”

Strategically, De Rossi doesn’t reveal much but explains how crucial it is to adapt to situations by opting for different formations based on circumstances: “The three-man defense is a possibility; it intrigues me. It would challenge my players to one-on-one situations. It’s false to say that the three-man defense can’t be done just because we struggled at times. I believe that, if done well, with attacking defenders, it can be an interesting thing. It’s an important countermove also for tomorrow. But it doesn’t mean we’ll play it.” As for the four-man backline: “You can win games with two different formations; you can’t have the counterproof. Before, you played in fixed positions; now you move much more on the field. The starting formation only counts up to a certain point. The full-back used to be just on the wing; now they’re much more inside the field. It’s not a matter of 4-3-3. The formation is more linked to the defensive phase, but it also depends on your opponent and how they move. If the opposing full-back comes inside, what’s the point of staying on the wing? Overlaps are a solution regardless of the formation.”


Serie A obsessive.