Roma coach Luciano Spalletti says Edin Dzeko was made into a scapegoat following his missed chances in their Champions League exit to Real Madrid and expects him to react positively against Udinese.
Dzeko, along with Mohamed Salah and Alessandro Florenzi, spurned a number of opportunities in their last-16 second leg clash at the Santiago Bernabeu on Tuesday as Madrid ultimately prevailed 2-0 to claim a 4-0 aggregate triumph.
The Bosnia-Herzegovina international has since been the subject of media criticism and Spalletti revealed others in the Roma dressing room also attributed the blame for the club’s elimination to those unable to hit the target.
Ahead of Sunday’s visit to Udinese, Spalletti said: “Players make mistakes and what you in the media say, that this player shouldn’t be allowed on the field anymore, that is what breaks up the team.
“There’s another thing too. You focused only on those who missed chances. Some of my players said the same too, that we had 10 chances, what more can we do? But they weren’t those who missed the shots. They were the others who said that.
“It’s almost as if they and you are trying to find the scapegoat to blame for the defeat. Don’t forget we also conceded goals that were avoidable, even against Real Madrid.
“I don’t want someone to feel relieved about their performance, as if it was the fault of the forward who missed.
“I didn’t like that reaction. If they had provided the pass a little better or helped follow up the move, maybe it would’ve been a goal. I want them to think like that.
“My view of the Dzeko situation is that I expect him to plead for another chance to start tomorrow [against Udinese]. He has to be motivated, because you all motivated him with everything you’ve written.
“I don’t need to say anything else to him. The greatest gift I can give is the starting shirt, because I am sure this man will show his true quality and react strongly to what happened.”