Spalletti: ‘Europa League can be great’

Luciano Spalletti tried to get Roma motivated for the Europa League with Viktoria Plzen, but “can’t promise” Francesco Totti will play.

It kicks off in Plzen tomorrow at 18.00 UK time (17.00 GMT).

“This season we have a competitive enough squad to boast more than 11 first choice players. The team was above all built to ensure we could rotate without wearing down the same players,” said the Coach in a Press conference.

Luciano Spalletti tried to get Roma motivated for the Europa League with Viktoria Plzen, but “can’t promise” Francesco Totti will play.

It kicks off in Plzen tomorrow at 18.00 UK time (17.00 GMT).

“This season we have a competitive enough squad to boast more than 11 first choice players. The team was above all built to ensure we could rotate without wearing down the same players,” said the Coach in a Press conference.

“Obviously we will do that, but the fundamental thing is to keep playing good football and try to win games.”

Has it been difficult to muster enthusiasm for the Europa League after Roma crashed out of the Champions League preliminary round?

“The Champions League is the most prestigious tournament there is. The Europa League becomes wonderful if we are able to go forward. Obviously the comparison is bad now, but if we reach the final phase then this competition will become beautiful too.”

The Giallorossi have shown a consistent problem in Europe, namely keeping one clean sheet in the last 32 games.

Daniele De Rossi and Emerson Palmieri are suspended for this trip, while Thomas Vermaelen is available again after his ban.

“We have to improve both our statistics and our behaviour,” continued Spalletti. “We’ve been forced to often change the players in defence and some arrived very late in the day, but we could and should’ve done better.

“We are working hard on the defence and realise how important it is to remain solid at the back. Tomorrow we’ll be able to use new players like Fazio, who is a good player and won’t be as fatigued as the others.

“Vermaelen is available, but playing him right away could create problems for the next game. My intention, if possible, is to not use him tomorrow.

“Juan Jesus had a slight ankle problem and my intention is to use Jesus, Fazio and (Kostas) Manolas.”

Totti came off the bench to provide an assist and last-minute penalty goal on Sunday, overturning Sampdoria for a 3-2 victory. Will he play tomorrow?

“I cannot promise anything, the game will dictate my actions. I have many strong players and can’t play them all. Francesco is a genius of football. It is always a pleasure to see him, but he is of a certain age. This disappoints everyone, but we must learn to use him in the right way.

“On Sunday we saw Roma’s style of football again and know how to use the diamond midfield. We saw what should be Roma’s football, the second half performance against Samp, and we must do well to stick to it.”

Spalletti was also asked about comments made by Radja Nainggolan, complaining that many Roma ultras only start cheering when Totti is on the pitch.

“People often ask if working in Rome is different: yes, it is. In Rome everything is more intense, it’s all doubled and sentiments are felt keenly, so you must be ready to double your efforts on the field.

“I think it depends on us, we cannot demand anything from the fans. We need to inspire them the way we did in the second half on Sunday with our behaviour and our football.

“If we make the precise and intense steps, the fans take part and will always give us what they do only in those moments when Francesco is playing.”

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