AS Roma coach Claudio Ranieri said his team will not be “stupid” enough to get shocked by CFR Cluj again ahead of Tuesday’s Champions League clash at the Stadio Olimpico.
Two years ago Cluj made a dream debut in the competition’s group stages as they returned from Rome with a 2-1 victory thanks to a brace from Argentine Juan Culio.
Although Roma recovered from that shock and actually went on to top their group, which included Chelsea, Ranieri is determined that lightning will not strike twice.
And he hopes that Saturday’s crucial 1-0 victory over champions Inter Milan in Serie A — Roma’s first win of the season — will finally kick-start their campaign.
“The victory against Inter was important to give us more conviction and to give us back the hope we were losing,” he said at Monday’s pre-match press conference.
“Before we were recovering, now I already would like fly. The players were struggling but they continued to fight and at last we’re in the title picture and we want to stay there, but we can’t forget our bitter start.”
Roma began the season with two draws and two defeats in their four league matches while also losing 2-0 to Bayern Munich in the Champions League.
“We’re taking all that with us in the Champions League because we know how much it means to our fans,” added Ranieri.
“We’re playing the champions of Romania who two years ago won here with two goals by Culio who will play again tomorrow (Tuesday).
“We’ll have to play well to beat them — we were burnt once but now we’re ready.
“It would be stupid to be surprised again.”
Having lost in Munich, Roma are bottom of group E with no points and if they lose they would find themselves six points behind Cluj and possibly Bayern, who play FC Basel.
But Ranieri still believes this game is not going to be decisive.
“It’s not but it’s very delicate. We have to beat them to move onto three points and to continue on our way with serenity, determination and a lot of calm.”
Things have been far from calm within the camp, though, after captain Francesco Totti stormed out of the ground following his substitution against Inter.
Totti also aimed a broadside at his coach following the defeat to Bayern, claiming Ranieri was employing the unpopular “catenaccio” — door-bolt — tactics.
But the former Chelsea, Valencia and Juventus boss tried to downplay his captain’s ire.
“I don’t need to manage Totti. He’s 100 percent reliable, even more so,” said Ranieri.
“He’s a good player with integrity and I didn’t take him off because I didn’t think he could make the 90 minutes.
“If I picked him it’s because I think he can play 90 minutes. Everything went smoothly with Francesco and Adriano (in a Sunday meeting), as it should.
“They’re intelligent lads as I hope their coach is too.”
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