AS Roma midfielder Daniele De Rossi is set to start for his team in the UEFA Champions League debut for the Giallorossi against Barcelona at Stadio Olimpico on Wednesday. And De Rossi made it clear that he respects the opponents, calling them a “special side” and pointing out the danger of facing players like Lionel Messi. He also talked about his relationship with former coach and current Treble winner Luis Enrique. De Rossi also mentioned that the team will need to work hard in order to get a win at home. Here’s a few highlights from his press conference
Can you get a result tomorrow if you manage to nullify Messi?
“Barcelona are a special side in that, as well as being the best team, they also boast the best player around. It’s doubly difficult coming up against a team like the Blaugrana, as they have both a great playing style and exceptional individuals. Our aim is not simply to stop them but to work hard during the match and help one another out. Messi almost always beats a man, that’s why we have to stay compact and organized.”
Last year’s defeat to Bayern left lasting psychological damage. Could the same happen tomorrow?
“Last season’s match against the Germans was an unusual game. But Bayern and Barcelona are definitely on a similar level. They’re two of the most dominant teams in the world. Part of our efforts to qualify will be decided tomorrow. We know it will be important, as oppposed to crucial, and we cannot think that it will have an impact on our position in the standings and our efforts in the league. Serie A and the Champions League are two separate things, just like last year, although it definitely hit us hard losing like that at home.”
Were Roma not patient enough with Luis Enrique or was he not ready yet?
“He resigned so we can’t really blame the club. The 2011-12 season was a tricky campaign and people judged it in a certain way, as is often the case in Rome. He also didn’t get much support from the media because perhaps it didn’t suit their agenda. Since he left, he’s shown he’s not a mug like many people made him out to be and he’s been successful. Yes, he has a great squad to work with but I’m happy for him and his staff because they’re lovely people. Besides tomorrow, I’ll always cheer him on.”
You’ve been compared to Gerrard and Lampard in the past but can you now see a bit of Mascherano in yourself, in that you can also cover at the back?
“The Gerrard and Lampard comparisons were made by Lippi and then I kept on looking up to them. Barcelona have a host of stars and Mascherano has developed in a way I could in the future. He has dominated both in Spain and Europe in midfield and defense. It would be great if I could emulate him. This is more a tactical matter and depends on the team’s needs. The coach and players know I’ll play wherever I’m needed. If I can perform well like I did against Juventus, I’m happy.”