AS Roma may have experienced a few problems ahead of facing CFR 1907 Cluj, but midfielder Alberto Aquilani, referring to a team tradition in hard times, said: "I don't think the situation is so bad we need to go for pizza."
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It is fair to say that AS Roma are not beginning their UEFA Champions League campaign in the most serene of states, fresh from a disappointing 3-1 loss at US Città di Palermo on Saturday and with important players injured. There is a tradition at the club that, in troubled times, the players bond over a popular Italian dish, but ahead of Tuesday's encounter with CFR 1907 Cluj, Roma midfielder Alberto Aquilani insists: "I don't think the situation is so bad we need to go for pizza to solve it."
The Giallorossi take on the Romanian champions with only one point to their name in Serie A this season, with Juan and Simone Perrotta sidelined, and with the likes of Daniele De Rossi and Francesco Totti just recovered from injuries. Aquilani may dismiss talk of a crisis, but does concede: "It is a sensitive time and we are aware of the difficulties, but we are aiming to reverse the situation. The Palermo game has gone and it is time to look forward as we have a very important game."
There is one huge incentive for last season's Serie A runners-up in the UEFA Champions League this term – the final will be at the Stadio Olimpico on 27 May. Of course, with CFR, FC Girondins de Bordeaux and Chelsea FC up against them in Group A, Roma have enough of a task to make the knockout phase, yet Aquilani cannot help but dream. "The fact the final is in Rome gives it extra spice, although it would be good to play it anywhere!" he said. "The road is long, however, and we take it step by step. But of course it would be nice."
'Emotion and expectation'
Indeed, having helped Roma to two successive UEFA Champions League quarter-finals, the 24-year-old Italian international cannot wait to get going again. "This competition is so fascinating – there is so much emotion and expectation," Aquilani said. "As a player it is always great to play in. We are always united. Of course, when we lose there is a bit of sadness, so when we win it is even more pleasing."