Roma director Tiago Pinto hails ‘under-estimated’ Bryan Cristante and warns Inter fans who call Romelu Lukaku a traitor are ‘the same who said marvellous things about Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Edin Dzeko.’

The clash with Slavia Prague kicks off at the Stadio Olimpico at 20.00 UK time (19.00 GMT).

You can follow all the build-up and action as it happens from this game, Sturm Graz-Atalanta and Fiorentina-Cukaricki on the LIVEBLOG.

This is a head-to-head for the top of the group, as both teams are on six points, leaving behind Servette and Sheriff Tiraspol on zero.

Only the group winners go directly into the next round avoiding the play-offs in February with a side that drops down from the Champions League, so it is a very valuable slot.

The return of Diego Llorente allows Bryan Cristante to leave central defence and return to his traditional midfield role.

“Cristante is a great professional, a great man and one of the most important players not just on the pitch, but for what he represents for this club,” Tiago Pinto told Sky Sport Italia.

“At times he is a little under-estimated, but he is always there, always plays well in any role. He is one of those players we appreciate the most.”

Stephan El Shaarawy and Nicola Zalewski both start this evening, having denied the allegations made by gossip columnist Fabrizio Corona about them being involved in gambling.

“We looked them in the eyes and gave them the support they needed at this moment. This is a family and when there are problems, we deal with them together.”

That also goes for Lukaku, who is set to be welcomed by Inter fans at San Siro with 30,000 whistles to make his every touch deafening.

“Lukaku is a professional and a good guy, he has a heart of gold. I don’t generally like to get into these matters, but we in football have an important social responsibility and when someone tries to fuel an atmosphere of hatred, it is bad for football in general.

“There are reflections on TV rights, on the position our football holds on the international stage, but we forget to look at what happens day to day.

“Those who speak negatively about Lukaku’s choice are probably the same ones who said marvellous things about Mkhitaryan and Dzeko.”

Both Mkhitaryan and Dzeko left Roma as free agents to become crucial players for Inter on the path towards the Champions League Final.

Lukaku did not even do that, as he was only on loan from Chelsea and simply did not return on a permanent basis.

“I have respect for those who work in Italian football, but we must pay attention to what we say and do. Romelu is a professional, he made his decisions, he won with Inter and how he is happy with us.

“I hope everyone has a sense of responsibility about this situation.”

One thought on “Tiago Pinto: ‘Lukaku critics praised Mkhitaryan for same thing’”
  1. Only Rometta could try to excuse the behaviour of Lukkakka , no suprise , look at their manager’s behaviour!

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