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Daniele De Rossi could play a leading role when AS Roma face Manchester United FC in the first leg of their UEFA Champions League quarter-final.
Born in Rome, the midfielder has been nicknamed 'Capitan Futuro' – Captain Future – by supporters who see him as the natural heir to Francesco Totti as skipper. With the forward out with a thigh injury and vice-captain Christian Panucci doubtful for a place in the starting XI, the 24-year-old may even try the armband on for size on Tuesday. "It's a pity Totti will not be playing but all the players in the squad are ready to make a big contribution, even if they are not from Rome or are not Roma fans like me and Totti," he said. "The real strength of this Roma side is the squad and the generosity of every player."
De Rossi knows Roma will have a difficult task against a United team who are flying at the top of the English Premier League. "They are a great side, strong in every area of the pitch, but there are four or five players in attack who are frightening because of their quality and their age," the Italian international said. "They are all strong and young so they will be very good for years to come." Wayne Rooney is a particular threat according to De Rossi. "I rate him as one of the three best players in the world. He is definitely my favourite United player. He is very young and solid and has already scored against us. I just hope he will not be at his best on Tuesday."
De Rossi scored Roma's consolation goal when they were beaten 7-1 by United at Old Trafford in the second leg of last season's quarter-final, although his strike received scant attention given the scale of the Giallorossi's defeat. "I scored a good goal but it was completely pointless," he said. "We have been thinking about that game a lot and mostly we think of it as a 7-0 defeat. My goal has been completely forgotten. The final result cancelled it out and erased all the other good things we had done previously in the Champions League."
Those bitter memories, however, will not overwhelm Roma, nor will the presence of an in-form Cristiano Ronaldo, of whom De Rossi said: "He plays his own way, whether the score is 0-0 or 7-1." The Roma academy product added: "United are very strong, as results in their domestic league and the Champions League show. But they are not unbeatable. They have been beaten in the league and we beat them last season at home [2-1, in the quarter-final first leg]. There are no unbeatable teams even if, unfortunately, we are facing United at the peak of their form. I am sure they have weaknesses. This match is a bit odd because of the 7-1 last season but our approach has to be the usual one."
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