Central defender Philippe Mexès is convinced AS Roma are ready to turn the corner after a difficult start to the season – and thinks victory in his homeland at FC Girondins de Bordeaux might be just the tonic they need.
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Defender Philippe Mexès is convinced AS Roma are ready to turn the corner after a difficult start to the season – and thinks victory at FC Girondins de Bordeaux in UEFA Champions League Group A might be just what they need to launch their campaign.
Luciano Spalletti's charges have already lost twice in five Serie A outings and were stunned by competition debutants CFR 1907 Cluj in the Italian capital a fortnight ago – going down 2-1 despite scoring first. With Bordeaux also seeking their first points having succumbed 4-0 at Chelsea FC on Matchday 1, Mexès is predicting an open encounter on his return to France. "We both suffered poor results which means both teams will be looking to react," the former AJ Auxerre centre-back said. "We need to make sure we approach the game in the right way because we have serious ambitions to progress in this competition. If we beat Bordeaux we'll be back on track."
Many expected Romanian champions CFR to struggle on their debut yet their stunning Stadio Olimpico success proved they should not be taken lightly. Mexès admits the result left the Roma dressing room shell-shocked. "We were really disappointed and we've found it difficult to put that result behind us," the 26-year-old said. "Losing the first game at home has made life much more difficult. CFR Cluj played well, though, and deserve credit. From our point of view, we've had injuries but we've still got a strong team and we still play in the same way. Soon we'll see the real Roma again."
Dip in form
The CFR reverse has been one of several setbacks for the French international, who has been hampered by injury and a dip in form this term. A model of consistency last year, Mexès experienced a torrid evening in Les Bleus' FIFA World Cup qualifier in Austria last month, subsequently losing his place in the heart of the France defence. His confidence appears to have suffered, although a more reassuring display in Sunday's 2-0 triumph for Roma against Atalanta BC is a source of encouragement. "I've had some personal difficulties and I haven't always been perfect on the pitch this season, but I've put those things behind me," he explained. "I feel good at Roma and, in any case, the team's results are always more important than an individual's performance."
Roma's travails have been mirrored by Bordeaux's inconsistency, with Laurent Blanc's side struggling to live up to expectations after a fine 2007/08. Mexès's international team-mate Alou Diarra believes the Ligue 1 club's new status has alerted their opponents. "Psychologically things have changed because teams are more wary of us and they all do their homework," the 27-year-old midfielder said. "We haven't shown people the true face of Bordeaux yet." Diarra knows they will have to raise their game against last season's Serie A runners-up. "Roma have many great players," he warned. "Francesco Totti isn't here but perhaps the other players will work harder to make up for his absence. We know it'll be tough but we're ready."