Luciano Spalletti believes any Roma players overwhelmed by fear ahead of Tuesday’s decisive Champions League play-off clash with Porto should not be playing for the club.
Roma shared a 1-1 draw with their Portuguese opponents in last week’s first leg, despite losing defender Thomas Vermaelen to a first-half red card on his debut.
Andre Silva restored parity from the penalty spot after Felipe’s first-half own goal but Spalletti, who succeeded Rudi Garcia as head coach at the Stadio Olimpico in January, wants his team to be bold despite the tie hanging in the balance.
“We want to take the game to them – we are not going to leave it down to fate, we want to determine the result,” Spalletti told a pre-match news conference.
“We need to go out there with our heads high and try to win the game from the off, not wait for them to play it around our box looking to score.
“If we struggle dealing with fear, risk and danger then that means we’re afraid of dealing with success too. And if that’s the case for a player then they don’t belong at Roma.
“If they get nervous about a match they’ve wanted for eight months then they don’t belong at Roma. They should want to play it.
“They shouldn’t feel stressed about trying to manage the result. If they’re scared, they’re not for us.”
Even allowing for their numerical disadvantage at the Estadio do Dragao, Spalletti was unimpressed with Roma’s game management and wants to see a ruthless edge if they establish an advantage again this time around.
“Given our experience and ability in managing games, we weren’t good enough after we took the lead,” he explained.
“We played below our level after the break, but even though we were a man down we still pressed them in their half of the pitch.
“I expect to see that again. It needs to be a trait we display every time we get the chance to wear the Roma colours.”
Spalletti hopes his side can draw confidence from a resounding 4-0 win over Udinese in Saturday’s Serie A opener, and suggested he will make minimal changes to the side that started that game.
“The lads showed me what I wanted to see against Udinese,” he added. “Udinese were a very physical opponent and that’s true of Porto too – in the penalty box we were up against some big guys.
“I won’t tell you who’s playing in goal or who’s at full-back as all options are valid. There are only two decisions to make, so you could almost predict the starting line-up.”