Luciano Spalletti says he will not deploy “a cage” of defenders around Cristiano Ronaldo when Roma host Real Madrid in the Champions League on Wednesday.
Ronaldo scored 11 times during the group stage and got back among the goals in La Liga on Saturday, netting twice in the 4-2 home win over Athletic Bilbao.
Spalletti has denied suggestions Ronaldo is in decline but will not focus his team’s entire defensive efforts on stopping the Portugal star in the first leg of the round-of-16 tie at Stadio Olimpico.
“I don’t think so,” the Roma coach said when asked whether Ronaldo is a fading force.
“Ronaldo is one of the best players in the world. He can always make the difference.
“He’s a modern player: strong, fast, and able to score a lot of goals. But I won’t make a cage around him, I won’t use three players to mark him.
“The player to counter Ronaldo must be – amongst other things – quick. Alessandro Florenzi could be an option.”
Spalletti was in charge when Roma recorded a memorable 4-2 aggregate win over Madrid at the same stage of the competition in the 2007-08 campaign and while he maintains his side have a “50 per cent chance” of progressing, he also offered a reminder the Giallorossi are still developing after he succeeded Rudi Garcia as head coach last month.
“I don’t think there’s a favourite. I think each side has a 50 per cent chance,” he said.
“The last time I took out Real I had a stable Roma, with a tried-and-tested system that had already produced results. Right now we’re trying things out.
“We’re on the road to enhance our own group. I think this is a suitable match to help us understand if we’re on the right track. I’m confident, because I’ve seen my players be very attentive.”
Daniele De Rossi completed training on Sunday and will be part of the matchday squad, while Spalletti also confirmed Francesco Totti could be involved after he sat out the victory over Carpi with a muscle problem.
“De Rossi trained well yesterday, I hope that things are going okay. He’ll be called up.
“If Totti can train with the group then he will be with the squad.”
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