Daniele De Rossi admitted ‘there’s a lot to fear’ about Xabi Alonso’s Bayer Leverkusen as his Roma gear up for their Europa League semi-final clash.

The Giallorossi have been a team reborn since De Rossi took over from Jose Mourinho back in January, flying up the Serie A table and putting together a strong run in Europe, beating Feyenoord in the knockout playoffs, Brighton in the Round of 16 and Milan in the quarterfinals.

De Rossi and Roma now face the toughest task of their season, facing Bayer Leverkusen in the Europa League semi-finals. Xabi Alonso’s side are still undefeated across all competitions this term, being part of one of the most exciting Cinderella stories in modern football.

De Rossi ‘fear’ of Bayer Leverkusen

Speaking in a press conference via TMW, De Rossi first discussed the condition of Romelu Lukaku and his choices in defence.

“Lukaku has done very little training, but he’s been out for a little while. We’ll take another day to evaluate. He seems to be doing quite well, maybe today we’ll push him a little more and then we’ll decide. I still have some doubts.

“Smalling has done a full training session, I hope and think I’ll get them both back. We’ll see how the playing time is managed. As for Llorente’s tactical question on the right… we’ll also evaluate based on how they’re doing, we’ll try to think about everything.”

He touched on his fears of Xabi Alonso’s Bayer Leverkusen.

“There’s everything to fear. The way they play, they have a long streak of results. I respect their coach a lot. They have more work behind them with the same coach. There’s a lot to fear. One thing to respect is that are unbeaten despite often going behind.

“In addition to being strong and playing well, they have awareness and tenacity even until the final minutes. It’s one more thing that I fear and respect about them, but there are many things about us sometimes in the final minutes we score but it also depends on our mental and physical strength.

“We too often score at the end, and we are in it until the last minutes, otherwise we don’t score in Udinese, in Napoli, we don’t save a goal in the 95th minute. Ditto in Florence. Ours is a team that believes and has heart. From this point of view, we are similar.”

De Rossi was asked if Bayer Leverkusen’s unbeaten run gave them added pressure.

“I don’t think it’s a burden, but there are teams that have put them in difficulty. I leave the luck to those who go to play at the casino. There is something great in that team. They have a strong coach, perhaps the best in the world, excellent players and they play great football.”

He spoke about the fact that the German side’s last European defeat was to Roma.

“For those who believe in it, it can be hope. I think about preparing the match and my players. On the pitch we will find a stronger and improved team. This year they have more awareness, they know they are champions.

“They have a free mind, and they want to be champions in Europe too. The numbers say they have changed, but just looking at it is a good memory, I hope it bothers them, but we are focusing on this match. We know they are stronger.”

Finally, De Rossi discussed what he likes most about Bayer Leverkusen.

“Several things. They have strong players put in the ideal conditions to do well. They have a physical, solid team, but they also have great quality. Wirtz, Grimaldo. Schick has always been strong, but now he is a man. Boniface is strong. They have strong replacements.

“If Frimpong doesn’t play, Tella plays. They have quality players but also with great skill. They know how to play but they also know how to be direct. They have built a really strong team thanks to the coach’s ideas but also thanks to important signings.”

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