Champions League

Di Francesco promises different Roma in return leg

Eusebio Di Francesco (Getty Images)
Eusebio Di Francesco (Getty Images)

Cape Town - Roma boss Eusebio Di Francesco said he remains optimistic for the return leg despite seeing his Roma side suffer a 5-2 defeat in their Champions League semi-final match at Anfield on Tuesday.

Although disappointed with his side’s showing, the Italian vowed to put on a "very different" display in the return match at the Stadio Olimpico next week.

Roma surprised many earlier this month when they recovered from a 4-1 first-leg deficit to defeat Barcelona 3-0 and go through on away goals in the quarter-finals.

"We said before the Barcelona game that we believed totally in our chances and I say the same now," Di Francesco told reporters.

"The team today lost its confidence too much and got totally disbanded, but that shouldn't happen, it doesn't matter how many setbacks there are or goals conceded.

"We will see a very different Roma in the second leg. If you lose numerous duels around the pitch, you're going to lose the game. If we got here it's because we fought and won duels against many very talented players.

"If the opposition has the ball and is preparing a pass, you can't just stand there and wait for it to come in, especially when it's an easy enough situation to read. We made it easy for them."

Di Francesco also denied that his 3-5-2 formation had allowed Liverpool to get on top early, blaming their troubles on his team's inability to retain possession.

"We had that system in the first 20 minutes, when it was very even, so that wasn't the issue," Di Francesco said. "We continued to lose every one-on-one situation and give the ball away very cheaply.

"I don't want to see anyone on trial now, as preparing games on paper is not the same thing and tactics become relative if we can't keep the ball or make a simple pass.

"Their attacking moves almost all happened when we lost the ball. If they allowed us some three against three moves, it means we have the quality. Our centre-backs were caught when they should've turned and blocked. Losing all these duels showed we were a little below Liverpool in terms of physicality and pace."