Luciano Spalletti has challenged Roma to seize the initiative as they look to overturn a 2-0 deficit in the second leg of their last-16 Champions League tie against Real Madrid.
The Serie A side conceded twice in the second half at the Stadio Olimpico on February 17, leaving them facing a tall order in the return fixture at the Santiago Bernabeu on Tuesday.
However, Spalletti – who has revitalised the team’s fortunes since starting his second spell in charge in January – feels the score in Rome was not a fair reflection on the home team’s display.
“I’m asking my team to do the impossible,” he conceded. “The way they are training allows me to ask that question.
“We must not be weak mentally and play to lose. If anyone thinks like that with me, they won’t even train.
“The result from the first leg was harsh on us seeing how we performed. We were unlucky in individual moments.
“Tomorrow we must be able to choose when to attack or hold off. We must be convinced when taking the initiative.”
The need for goals could see Edin Dzeko handed a rare start for Roma.
The forward, signed on a season-long loan deal from Manchester City with a view to a permanent move, began the first leg against Madrid on the bench.
He did score twice when selected from the start in the next match, a 5-0 league win over Palermo, but has found himself back among the substitutes for Roma’s last two domestic fixtures.
“He’s doing his work in the right way,” Spalletti added. “I made some choices and they were down to me, not his performances. The team played good football, so the choices weren’t totally wrong.
“He has different characteristics from the recent tactical choices. Thinking about this match and the advantage that Real Madrid have, Dzeko has more chance of helping us given what our approach will be.”
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