Roma are caught between something of a rock and a hard place for their Champions League round of 16 tie, with Eusebio Di Francesco admitting that he must find a balance between defensive solidity and staying true to the team’s ethos.
On Tuesday night, last season’s semi-finalists welcome Porto to the Stadio Olimpico for the first leg of their knockout stage tie, taking on a side who have given the Lupi problems in the past.
“In matches like this, especially in the first game, it is essential to try to keep a clean sheet. But in this sense, that doesn’t mean the team has to lose our identity,” he told reporters at Trigoria.
“We just have to be more careful. We have never had a good time of it against Porto historically so we must be wary. Beyond their individual players, they are a good team.
“They are a side who win a lot of their defensive duels too so it is going to be a very difficult match, particularly from a physical point of view.”
Last season, the Champions League did provide a big boost for the Giallorossi thanks to their run to the semi-final and stunning comeback against Barcelona in the round before, something Di Francesco hopes can lift the low morale around the club once more.
“The path is a long one for us but this is a great opportunity to put in a good performance, play well and bring back some enthusiasm,” continued the former Sassuolo tactician.
“It is only us and Juve [of the Serie A sides] left in the Champions League so we have to be positive and ambitious.”