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Best of the Champions League Post-Match Reactions

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I wasn’t even born when Roma were last in a European Cup semi-final.

AS Roma v FC Barcelona - UEFA Champions League Quarter Final Second Leg Photo by Catherine Ivill/Getty Images

It was a historic night, not just for Roma, but for Champions League football. Roma became only the third team in CL history (and ninth in European Cup history) to do what only Deportivo and Barcelona themselves has done in the CL before. All while yet to conceed a single goal at home in this season’s competition.

Here is the best of post-match reaction - including Di Francesco claiming he could turn his back on 4-3-3 for good and Pallotta dunking himself in the Piazza Popolo fountain in Rome - after Roma wiped out a 3-goal first leg deficit to reach a Champions League semi-final. They also gave their captain De Rossi the chance to break the club record for most Champions League appearances, as DDR equalled Totti’s record last night and will surely go on to make it his own in the next round.

There were also reactions from Fazio and Florenzi, while Manolas was close to tears in his pitchside interview, but this post was getting to be a real scroll-job even before thinking about putting them in.

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Daniele De Rossi (to Mediaset Premium): “Knowing that it was always going to be difficult, I still had just that little bit of conviction that it was possible. Even in the first leg, I said to myself they had been stronger but not that much stronger, not with that same force they had a few years ago. There wasn’t really that big of a gap. From there, to go and win this game 3-0 and conceed nothing was truly something. We had to be really great. The coach above all: to come up with a formation out of nothing, to get it in our heads within three days and then the rest, we did it ourselves. I’m happy for my extraordinary form right now but I swear I’m happy for my teammates who were really great, the coach, the staff, everyone.”

Is this the most beautiful evening since you’ve been a Roma player?

DDR: “It’s one of them.”

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Edin Dzeko (to Mediaset Premium): “It was easier for me to play with Schick and Nainggolan close to me because the defenders left more space for me. I felt very good with them next to me. On Roma’s league form, I don’t know what to say. We’ve lost many points, too many at home. There’s still seven games to play. But I think we’re deservedly here in the semi-finals.”

How do explain the performances here, against Napoli, and then the moments where - when you’re favourites - the performances don’t come?

Dzeko: “It’s hard to explain. Here at Roma, mentality is talked about a lot but if you don’t have the right attitude then you couldn’t even win games like this. Maybe when we’re favourites sometimes we think things will come easily, but it’s never easy and you always have to give 100 percent.”

How far can Roma go in the Champions League?

Dzeko: “I hope to the Final. Because no one believed in us and we managed to get to the semi-final for the first time. I have to say I’m very happy that I can watch the draw, seeing my Roma in there.”

How much money did you give up in January to stay at Roma?

Dzeko: (grins) “Let’s not talk about money. It’s not important.”

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Juan Jesus (to RomaTV): “Today we played a game from the heart and a tactically perfect one, tactically great. This result brings us to so many things so right now it’s time to rest up, eat well and work.”

When was the moment you started to think: ‘We can do this’?

Juan Jesus: “I can only speak for myself, I always thought it. Then the coach changed the formation - they weren’t expecting that. We’ve shown yet again we’re able to face anyone in Europe, and people are always free to talk. Today we’ve surprised everyone, we’ve qualified, and maybe those who were talking will keep quiet for at least 3 or 4 days. The formation helped me to be more aggressive, knowing Manolas was there to have my back. Then there’s Alex on the wing who can make the most of everything. I don’t know if the coach will continue with this formation but it brought us the result tonight.”

How many days did you all take to prepare this game plan?

Juan Jesus: “One day (laughs). We rested the day after the Fiorentina game. Then we had one training session and yesterday we did very little. It’s only a question of mentality: if everyone believes in it, puts their heart into it. Tactically and technically we’re very strong but when we put in that little something extra, we can definitely make the most of so much on the pitch. Tactics definitely help you, but if you don’t put in something more then what good are tactics going to do? Football is passion, heart and everything you live for to get this far.”

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Radja Nainggolan (to RomaTV): “[The tactics] were the coach’s decision. He wanted to change something to make sure we didn’t get stuck playing it deep in our half. With our defence it was the best solution to then, on the ball, be able to hurt them. I think today was a perfect match from us, we didn’t give away anything and we capitalised on the chances we had so let’s say it was the perfect match and the perfect result. You know whoever we have next will always be a difficult game. We have to keep doing what we do, as long as we do that then dreaming for something more never hurt anyone. Right now, having eliminated Barcelona, I think the other teams will tell themselves it’ll be hard to face us, too.”

Radja Nainggolan (in the mixed media zone): “No one expects to overcome such a heavy result from the first leg but, looking at both games, we definitely deserved to go through. We put in two top performances. We created so many chances both in the away and home legs. We created so much today and even at the end of the first half, we could have had a big advantage, but it was enough to win 3-0 and we’ve won 3-0 so we’re through.”

What was it down to today: was it the change of formation? A show of mentality? What did you all do to arrive at this performance?

Radja Nainggolan: “We made a tactical change that today paid off in many ways. That’s credit to the coach who believed in that gamble. But for us [players], we played a perfect game both in the defensive phase and in imposing ourselves on the game because we gave away almost nothing to Barcelona. So I think the credit goes to us all.”

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James Pallotta (in the mixed media zone) can be found here since it’s in English. Pallotta later dunked himself into a water fountain in the middle of Rome and watching fans, which you can see here. It wasn’t quite the Trevi fountain, but the Piazza Popolo would have to do for Pallotta’s Dolce Vita moment.

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Monchi (in the mixed media zone): “It’s true that, once we scored the second goal and there was time left, I thought we could do it.”

What does it mean for you personally: a Champions League semi-final in your first year at Roma?

Monchi: “I don’t think it’s the moment to think about myself, but about the team and the staff. On a personal level it’s joy. I’ve had the good fortune to reach many important moments with Sevilla and today, maybe it’s the first time I reach an important moment with Roma. Maybe even this year has many days left like today ahead.”

Do you believe in it now? [Winning the whole thing]

Monchi: “We’re there. We’re among four teams that can play in the final. Why not?”

Do you feel there’s a chance for Montella and Sevilla?

Monchi: “I hope tomorrow with Sevilla he can do something similar to what we’ve done today. It will be difficult, but for us it was difficult. It’s a question of believing.”

The fans will want a Roma v Liverpool game - the revenge for ‘84...

Monchi: “In the final, maybe. Maybe.”

With Salah...

Monchi: “He scored a goal today, I think.”

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Eusebio Di Francesco (to RomaTV): “I think this win is born from an identity, an idea that I’m carrying forward for some time. The philosophy and the ideas were the same even if the formation changed today for one reason: I wanted to play the match differently because I had studied Barcelona well, including in the first leg, and I saw a Barcelona game against a team that played 3-4-3 or 3-4-1-2, however which way you want to put it. I thought that risking something more, with an extra defender in there, we would be even more aggressive than usual in looking to get it in their half. The first thing I did was congratulate the lads and celebrate in the dressing room with them, because this was a win made in Trigoria. Our strength was believing and believing in what was asked, even despite me changing the men they were even more convinced, in the two days of training to prepare for the game, for what I wanted: looking to put a player like Schick in the best place to express himself, moving Nainggolan even closer to Dzeko, dropping deep a lot less and giving width to the team. Their interpretation of it was truly perfect.”

You’ve always said there’s no need to improvise in football, but this looks to me like you’ve come up with it in a day or two days. Is this a kind of understanding between the players that you can keep on with in the league?

EDF: “It certainly can because this formation, at the foundation of it, has the strengths of the players. You have to look to put them in the best place, that’s what I look for today. It’s obvious that when you believe in something firmly but you see that.... well.... the paradox of that what I’d created with the 4-3-3 until now: it always gave me satisfaction just as much as it had taken that satisfaction away in the very same moment. There was always something missing, I felt. And I hadn’t slept after the Fiorentina game. I thought about what could be the answer tactically and thought of this 3-4-1-2 or 3-4-3 that showed more answers and gave me the chance to, especially in this game against Barcelona, put the opposition in trouble. I’m happy because, playing with three at the back, I didn’t put Fazio at the middle - I put him on the right. Because he has more technical ability and I wanted to play the ball more with the ‘wing’ central defenders, if you want to call them that. Meanwhile, Manolas was loving it. Why? Because he, in duels and the open pitch in front of him, starts to come into his own. The central defenders were all able to stay on top of plays, both on the left and right.”

How did you manage to get the team to believe in this win? What were right words to get it done?

EDF: “After the Fiorentina game, I made them watch 50 minutes of our game against Barcelona. And then I made them watch Barcelona-Chelsea, the game they played at the Camp Nou. Just to let them understand what my idea was and why I wanted to do one thing different. They understood well that the philosophy of the team doesn’t change: getting in the faces of our opposition. But we had the possibility to be even stronger, especially with the three central defenders being very aggressive. I had some one-on-one motivational talks that isn’t right to share here because it’s our thing between us. [Those talks] were tied to so many small things that made a difference in this game. You have to think positive, because there’s always this aspect at Roma where we look ahead to what we have to do in the next game, rather than looking to what we have to do right now. I think each one of us lives for this kind of evening and for this kind of game. And I think this club and these people deserved an evening to remember, and I’m very happy to be a part of it.”

Ah, Di Francesco, there are congratulations coming in from both Milan and Juventus, you know?

EDF: “Thanks, that makes me happy.”

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