Saturday, September 23, 2017

Di Francesco admits Roma lack fitness

SoccerNews in UEFA Champions League 12 Sep 2017

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Roma coach Eusebio Di Francesco questioned his side’s fitness levels after they were left holding on for a 0-0 home draw against Atletico Madrid in the Champions League.

Giallorossi goalkeeper Alisson played a starring role to help earn Di Francesco a point from his first game as a coach in Europe’s top competition, the Brazilian pulling off a string of excellent saves to keep Atletico at bay.

While Di Francesco paid tribute to the 24-year-old, he said he expected his team to improve on their stamina. 

“I honestly am wondering myself why we aren’t better in terms of fitness levels,” he said.

“If you look at the players who held out better, they were Diego Perotti and Juan Jesus, who were at pre-season training with me.

“I think with consistency and hard work, we’ll get in better shape, but we will evaluate it and try to improve the fitness levels, which in my view were decisive.”

The result came on the back of a 3-1 home defeat to Inter in Serie A and Di Francesco was asked by reporters whether he heard the crowd at Stadio Olimpico voicing their displeasure at the sight of Roma being outplayed for periods of the game.

“I didn’t hear any jeers,” he insisted. “We were facing a strong side like Atletico, we had a little luck at the end, getting back perhaps the luck we missed against Inter, and the goalkeeper made some great saves.

“I was forced to change system, as we could no longer contain their runs, but we did find more balance.

“It’s important not to misplace passes, then at a certain stage Alisson was decisive. He’s a fine goalkeeper and we’re glad to have him with us.”

Atletico coach Diego Simeone said Roma “deserved their point” and also picked out Alisson as the evening’s star player.

The keeper faced 10 shots on target – compared to the one that Roma managed on Atletico’s goal – and Simeone felt a breakthrough was all that his side lacked.

“You saw a team that played a well-thought-out game, believing in what it was doing,” he said. “Unfortunately, we were missing a goal, but I appreciated the philosophy and the performance.

“We have to compliment the goalkeeper, as Alisson did a great job. The shots were on target, aside from Saul [Niguez] hitting the woodwork, as otherwise he had saves on Koke, two or three on Saul – he had a wonderful performance.”

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