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Spalletti: Salah and Dzeko are world class players

salah, villareal

(Photo by Enrico Locci/Getty Images)

AS Roma manager Luciano Spalletti spoke about his team’s preparation ahead of their round of 32 return leg against Villareal in the UEFA Europa League, the team’s chances of winning the tournament, and how a defensive balance has enhanced Mohamed Salah and Edin Dzeko’s performances.

The Rome-based side will host Villareal Thursday evening in the second-leg of the Europa League Round of 32. Spalletti’s men had put a foot in the next round by beating Villareal 0-4 at the Estadio El Madrigal.

The 57-year-old confirmed that there will be some minor squad rotations to allow some player to rest, and give other player’s a chance to continue their good form. However, he has warned that no player will be guaranteed a spot, especially if the players given a chance produce stellar performances.

“The players that have been involved less have proved their quality when they’ve been called to the fore and we shouldn’t forget that it’s thanks to their contribution that our training sessions are of such a high standard,” explained Spalletti.

“I’ll switch it around a bit, but you’re dreaming if you think Vermaelen, El Shaarawy, Paredes, and Perotti can be called reserve players,” he noted.

“I still need to make my mind up on two or three positions, but I’ll keep my deliberations to myself for a little while yet. That said, Totti will play tomorrow. Gerson hasn’t had much playing time thus far, but he’s shown what he can do,” he said.

“Both of them [Dzeko and Salah] will have a rest tomorrow night, but in doing so they run a risk: if the other players come in and do well, they might not play next time either.”

When asked about Salah and Dzeko’s partnership and the reason for their good form, Spalletti praised the performance of the team overall and it’s positive effects on the attacking pair.

He explained, “The team has dictated the change in their understanding. They’re attacking players but behind them is a great defensive balance and their team-mates are providing better balls, putting together better build-up play and giving away the ball less. Both players are in good form – one is a more physical player who receives the ball into his body, while the other likes to bomb down the wing. The real difference is the team, but of course they have something on an individual level that helps to bring the rest of the players together.

“It’s clear that there is real quality in this Roma team now. It’s a side that can help a player coming into the team to raise their game. The team puts the individual players at ease and allows them to play to their best of their ability. It’s obviously easier for world-class players like Salah and Dzeko, who regularly produce in the biggest games,” he said.

Spalletti also emphasized the difficulty of the match, and how common it is to see spectacular comebacks in football: “It will be tough if we don’t focus correctly, but the dressing room is aware of the situation. If you look at the history of football, it’s clear to see that extraordinary results do happen.”

In response to a claim that Roma is a favorite to win the Europa League after Manchester United, Spalletti emphasized that he can never be sure and that the players have the mentality o=to train hard and win games.

“I don’t know how things will pan out moving forward or who we’ll have to play in this competition, but I do know that winning is the only thing on our minds,” he said, and continued, “Our players are showing that their goal is to win as many matches as possible. It might seem like we can afford to focus on managing the situation tomorrow now, but that’s not right. We will play to win and we will look to dictate the pace of the game. That needs to be a habit for us – a constant. That’s the kind of team we want to be.”

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