First knockout round, second leg (First leg: Arsenal 1-0 Roma)
Roma coach Luciano Spalletti says he will delay naming a starting lineup for the Champions League encounter with Arsenal until as late as possible after being hit by injuries.
The Giallorossi, who must overcome a 1-0 deficit at the Stadio Olimpico, will give late tests to midfielders Alberto Aquilani and David Pizarro as well as to striker Francesco Totti and goalkeeper Doni, who limped out of training on Tuesday. Centre-half Philippe Mexès also missed the session because of flu. Definitely out are Marco Cassetti, Simone Perrotta, the suspended Daniele De Rossi and Cicinho, who tore a cruciate knee ligament in training on Sunday.
“We have to analyse the situation tomorrow [Wednesday] to see who is fit,” Spalletti said. “It’s possible the game will go into extra time and I have to take that into account when making a final decision.”
Spalletti did promise a transformed display from the one Roma gave two weeks ago in London, where they were lucky to escape with a one-goal defeat.
“It will be different this time – we’ve got the fans behind us,” he said. “We need personality. We need a result. But I have faith in the boys. They’ve always given their best in big games.”
Arsenal’s main threat, according to the 50-year-old coach, will come from the wings. “I know them pretty well,” added Spalletti, who guided Roma to the quarter-finals in each of the last two seasons.
“They are technically good and dynamic on the flanks. We have to stop them reaching our area quickly. They have players coming back from injury and [Theo] Walcott’s incredible pace could cause us damage.” The Giallorossi were held 1-1 by Udinese Calcio on Saturday.
Walcott made his first Arsenal appearance since dislocating a shoulder nearly four months ago in Sunday’s 3-0 FA Cup defeat of Burnley, replacing Eduardo da Silva who had scored with a superb volley to confirm his recovery from a horrific leg break.
Manager Arsène Wenger, said: “It’s fantastic the way Eduardo has played. It’s nearly a miracle”.
Like Roma, Arsenal have hit form in recent matches. They are unbeaten in 17 games and, although that sequence includes four straight goalless Premier League draws, they have scored six in their last two matches.
“I don’t think that’s the way to behave going into a game like this, as it’s too dangerous,” he added.
“The positive thing about our home result is that we didn’t concede a goal, and we didn’t score enough to think we just have to defend. What is very important for us is to focus on scoring and going forward, because they are a team who are very good going forward.”