Claudio Ranieri explained why Roma changed gear in the second half against Udinese and insisted the race for fourth will “go down to the wire.”
Edin Dzeko’s strike was decisive in the 1-0 win over Udinese at the Stadio Olimpico.
“We suffered a lot in the first half and tried to take away the counter-attack option from Udinese, which we eventually managed after six or seven minutes of struggle,” the Coach told Sky Sport Italia.
“I have to compliment the lads, as they remained concentrated even when it wasn’t going well and didn’t lose their heads. I said this would be an extremely difficult game and it was.”
Alessandro Florenzi and Lorenzo Pellegrini replaced Juan Jesus and Patrik Schick at half-time, transforming the game.
“Of course, it’s a different Roma with those who on, because we basically had four centre-backs in a row. Ivan Marcano is a little more accustomed to it, but Juan Jesus is not. It got easier in the second half.
“Pellegrini has just returned from injury, I wasn’t sure how long De Rossi could hang on and in fact he went off injured, so I had to take that into consideration with only three substitutions available.
“I said the players needed to rediscover some confidence and stability. Zaniolo is a midfielder, but I can’t use him there with two central midfielders who run the game. His position is to a degree taken over by Lorenzo Pellegrini, so I am asking him for a small sacrifice to adapt to a new position for the good of Roma.”
Roma temporarily went into fourth place with this result, awaiting tonight’s Milan-Lazio showdown.
“It’ll be a fight to the very end for fourth place, because all the teams are in good shape and it’ll be a single detail that makes the difference for Champions League qualification. It’s going down to the wire.”