He may not be able to "explain what has gone wrong" at AS Roma this season, but Daniele De Rossi says it is time for the players to "do our own jobs and stop blaming others" as they take on Chelsea FC on Tuesday.
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Midfielder Daniele De Rossi has called on his AS Roma team-mates to treat Tuesday's home tie against Chelsea FC as a chance to rediscover the form that took the Italian side to the UEFA Champions League quarter-finals in each of the last two seasons.
The Giallorossi may have lost two of their three Group A matches, including a 1-0 defeat in London a fortnight ago, but De Rossi spoke passionately on the eve of Matchday 4 as he recalled past successes against the likes of Real Madrid CF and Olympique Lyonnais. "We can do a lot better," he said. "In the last two years we have beaten Madrid and Lyon. Chelsea may be one of, if not the, strongest teams in the world but if we can show that Roma again, I know we can win."
De Rossi, who will skipper the side if captain Francesco Totti fails a late fitness test on his knee, was quick to defend under-fire coach Luciano Spalletti following a disappointing start to the season. Saturday's 2-0 loss at Juventus was their fourth straight reverse in Serie A. "Why should we change Spalletti?" he asked, responding to a reporter. "We're a better team with him in charge and we like the way he plays. Wherever that information has come from, the dressing room is united behind the coach."
After being pipped to the Scudetto by FC Internazionale Milano last term, Roma lie fourth from bottom having managed only seven points from their first nine games. With six defeats, they have already equalled their total number of losses of the previous campaign. "I can't explain what has gone wrong," continued the 25-year-old Italian international. "It's like a vicious circle of problems – technical, tactical, even physical ones. What we need to do is our own jobs, and stop blaming others. It's melodramatic to say we're playing for the coach. The players, the coach and the management all need to pull together."
Looking back to the Chelsea match on 22 October, De Rossi said: "We played well over there. They've been scoring at will – three, four, five goals a game in the Premier League. We kept them at bay for most of our match and I think we were unlucky to lose. It's going to be tough, there's no doubt about that, as they have probably the strongest squad in the world. They may have changed coach but [Frank] Lampard, [John] Terry, [Didier] Drogba and their goalkeeper [Petr Čech], to name a few, are all world-class players."
With Totti battling for fitness, De Rossi is adamant that Roma need to press on without their own star man. "We want him to be properly fit – it's no good him coming back for one game but then being out for three," said the Roma academy product. "We also need to remember how to win without him, as we did last season."