Eusebio Di Francesco explained he was less interested in Roma technique and talent against Genoa than determination. “We’re still a team that is ‘ill’ in a way.”
There were reports the Coach would be fired if he didn’t beat Genoa, so when going a goal behind twice amid a fan protest at the Stadio Olimpico, it was not looking good.
They fought back to win 3-2 with goals from Federico Fazio, Justin Kluivert and Bryan Cristante.
“I have to compliment the lads for managing to play in a really surreal atmosphere. It was not easy, you can see we are still a team that is ‘ill’ in a way, so we’ve certainly had better performances, but we’ll take the points,” Di Francesco told Sky Sport Italia.
The Coach gambled it all with a 3-4-3 system and Nicolò Zaniolo in a new more attacking role.
“I put Zaniolo out there for his first game against Real Madrid and people thought I was ill… But when you have talent, guts and determination, you can do great things.
“We had a lot of technical errors, but the most important thing was a show of character. Genoa are in good shape and they knew full well that they were up against a Roma side that was a little frightened, so they tried to make the most of the situation.
“If you look at the tactical decisions, we made some errors that can be done with three, four or five at the back. I expected some of those, but I tried to put a lot of emotion on to the field and that aspect satisfied me. If I was to analyse it as a Coach, there were a lot of problems, but that was not the most important element this evening.
“I wanted Zaniolo to initially be more of a trequartista and not a centre-forward, but seeing as we only tried it for a couple of days in training, Cengiz Under and Kluivert kept spreading out and couldn’t combine as much.
“I moved to three in midfield at half-time, as we weren’t covering the spaces enough. I like Zaniolo, as he has that desire to chase players down, to press everyone and make a constant nuisance of himself. We can’t just think we’re Roma and can therefore afford to only pass it around neatly without determination.
“I chose above all players who were fresh, young and free of the pressure. My only other option in attack was Patrik Schick, I had no options off the bench in midfield, while in defence I picked Juan Jesus because he is tough and I needed that in this game.
“Since Schick has been here, he has lacked a bit of determination. I want him to be a striker, to go for it and press people. We all expect more from him, but more importantly he is a young lad and there are many players here who are first and foremost men, so if they are having trouble, they need to be helped.”