Eusebio Di Francesco is looking forward to taking on his “brother” Vincenzo Montella when Roma face AC Milan in Serie A on Sunday.
The pair were at Empoli together early in their playing careers before teaming up to lead Roma to the Serie A title in the 2000-01 season, the last time the club won the Scudetto.
Roma and Milan are level on 12 points, although Di Francesco’s men have played a game fewer, and the Giallorossi coach provided an insight into his relationship with opposite number Montella.
“He’s like a brother to me because of everything we’ve been through together, starting at Empoli when we were young and trying to make a name for ourselves,” Di Francesco told a pre-match press conference on Saturday. “We’ve kept in touch over the years.
“I have lots of friends in football and Vincenzo is like a brother. I wish him all the best too. We roomed together for two years. It was cheeky and jokey back then and he’s stayed the same way as a coach. He hasn’t lost his ability to communicate – or crack a joke – and that’s part of what makes him such a good coach.
“He knows what to say in the dressing room and he’s very good at adapting to his players to get the most out of them. He might switch playing system but he always maintains the same philosophy, which is to hurt the opposition.”
— AS Roma English (@ASRomaEN) September 30, 2017
Roma have won three in a row in Serie A since suffering a shock home loss to Milan’s city rivals Inter.
Di Francesco is satisfied with the progress being made but is also keen to see how his side match up against Montella’s men.
“The lads have improved in lots of areas and we’ve secured some great results,” Di Francesco said.
“There have been games where we performed well for the full 90 minutes and others where we were less consistent.
“I’m pleased with the progress we’ve made in our build-up play and in staying compact as a unit but we need to be tighter both in possession and when not in possession. We’ll keep working on it.
“I think we’ll learn a lot from this game. It won’t decide anything either way but it’s important we stay up near the top of the table. Roma have changed playing philosophy and with time, hard work and good results we’ve grown in confidence. I hope that will help us tomorrow. AC Milan have changed a lot but they’ve brought in top quality players with a strong mentality.
“If we win, the headlines will be that Roma are in it. We’d be back in the race. That’s where we want to be and it’s only right that we should be aiming for it. Results determine how people think but we must keep working to stay up near the top regardless. We have to play with the right mindset – not with arrogance but with the belief that we can go there and take three points off a great team. It’s right that we should be aiming for three points in Milan.”
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