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Spalletti calls on Roma to seize initiative

With everything to play for in Group A, AS Roma coach Luciano Spalletti insists his side will attack from the off against FC Girondins de Bordeaux but opposite number Laurent Blanc believes patience will be key to victory.

Roma coach Luciano Spalletti
Roma coach Luciano Spalletti ©Getty Images

AS Roma and FC Girondins de Bordeaux's concluding Group A clash at the Stadio Olimpico on Tuesday will be an intriguing contest if the pre-match promises of coaches Luciano Spalletti and Laurent Blanc are anything to go by.

Psychological battle
There is everything to play for in the group. Roma are top on nine points, one ahead of Chelsea FC and two clear of Bordeaux. Spalletti kicked off the cat-and-mouse debate by saying, somewhat surprisingly, that the Giallorossi would go for the kill early on. "My team will play to win," he said. "To think otherwise would be a massive error. In a game like this, the mental side is crucial. They will surely come out all guns blazing so we have to do the same. If we don't, then we will immediately be on the back foot – a big psychological error if they go ahead."

In shape
Speaking later, Blanc suggested his team would play on the counter. "It would be wrong to begin the game thinking we're going to score a quick goal – that's just not our game," said the Bordeaux trainer. "Much better to get our shape right and to wait for the right moment to score. It would surprise me if Roma went out on the attack, though it would not be such a bad thing for us. It would mean they would be taking risks to get a goal and we could take advantage. No, I think we will have to shore up the defence and play on the counter. We can't make the same mistakes we made in London [a 4-0 loss to Chelsea FC on Matchday 1]. The longer the game stays at 0-0, the better it will be for us."

Late tests
Blanc's true tactics may well be revealed by the inclusion or otherwise in his starting lineup of free-scoring striker Fernando Cavenaghi. The coach has hardly used the Argentinian in the UEFA Champions League, preferring Marouane Chamakh up front. Cavenaghi notched his ninth Ligue 1 goal of the season in a 2-1 home victory over Valenciennes FC on Friday, a win that broke a series of three straight draws to put last term's runners-up into fourth position. The former France defender's other dilemma surrounds the availability of goalkeeper Ulrich Ramé who will play instead of Matthieu Valverde should he pass a late fitness test.

Danger men
Roma have been in excellent form, winning their last four Serie A matches – including Saturday's 1-0 success at AC Chievo Verona – as well as six of their last seven games in all competitions, without losing. Mirko Vučinić, hero of Matchday 4's 3-1 triumph over Chelsea, should be fit after a knee problem to lead the attack alongside Júlio Baptista and Francesco Totti. Rodrigo Taddei is definitely out, though. "We will have to watch out for [Yoann] Gourcuff but, for me, Bordeaux's strength is their teamwork," added Spalletti. Blanc picked out Roma's captain as the man to keep an eye on. "Totti can catch you at any moment," he said. "But, in many respects, this is an easy match to prepare for because my players know what's at stake."