Spalletti asking for the impossible

Roma head coach Luciano Spalletti insists they will be playing for the win against Real Madrid in their Champions League last-16 second leg on Tuesday.

The Serie A outfit face an uphill battle in Madrid after going down 2-0 at home in the first leg three weeks ago, but Spalletti says they will not go into the match with their focus on anything other than beating Los Blancos.

When asked if he would be happy to bow out of the competition gracefully with a decent performance in the deciding leg, the Italian responded: “I think that’s the wrong position, we have to send clear messages to the team.

“Everyone who does this job is very demanding, I always ask the impossible of my team. When I look at the squad I have available, it seems I can ask for more.

“After that we’ll see what happens in the game, but we can’t have the weakness of thinking we can play to lose, I wouldn’t even coach anyone who thinks like that.

“We have to play the ball on the deck more, if you give the ball to Real it all becomes more difficult. Real Madrid will adapt in their own way, but we can’t only think about adapting to them.

“We’ll try to do that, but we must have the courage to play our game. It’s easy to say, but we’ve emphasised that aspect in training and we have players who can retain the ball.”

Real star Cristiano Ronaldo scored four goals over the weekend, and Spalletti is aware of the danger they will be in if they focus too much on attacking Zinedine Zidane’s side on Tuesday.

“Ronaldo’s function isn’t just to score streaks of goals, he’s a player with great quality,” he added. “We have to force something, because the result from the first leg penalises us.

“We have to play our game, but if attacking means giving your opponent space and always playing on the halfway line, we can’t do that. We have to choose our moments, knowing when to force the issue and when to wait.”