First Knockout Round
Roma coach Luciano Spalletti is urging his players to seize the moment by defeating Lyon and booking a place in the Champions League quarter-finals for the first time.
Roma have not progressed beyond the last 16 since the competition was revamped, and Spalletti has told his players that for some of them, this may be their last opportunity to play in the latter stages.
“This is a historic moment for the club,” the 47-year-old said. “It’s vital that the players seize the opportunity because it may be the last chance they get to play in the latter stages of the Champions League.”
“We can feel that there is a special buzz about town,” Spalletti said. “There have been a lot of supporters turning up to watch us train and the tension is mounting. The crowd could play a fundamental role.”
“We won’t play defensively,” he insisted. “We’ll try to win the ball quickly and spring forward in numbers. Lyon are experienced but we won’t sit back and watch them play. We need to impose our style on them. We’re ready to fight, and I’m convinced we have enough quality to win playing our usual way.”
Captain Francesco Totti will lead the home attack, supported by the trio of Mancini, Simone Perrotta and Taddei. Philippe Mexes is expected to return after the Frenchman recovered from a foot injury but his central defensive partner Cristian Chivu is likely to miss out.
The French champions lost to Milan on their previous visit to Italy in last season’s quarter-finals, and their coach Gérard Houllier is looking for a better result.
“The Milan defeat still hurts because it was cruel and unjust,” he said. “But bad experiences like that make my players even more determined.”
“The vast majority of them didn’t know Rome so I felt they should see this magnificent city,” he said after taking his players on a tour of he Roman capital.
Yet the former France boss knows his side will need to be fully focused if they are to make the last eight for the fourth successive season.
“Roma are a hard team to play,” Houllier said. “They are similar to Lyon in that they always try to be positive and have great quality in attack. But we will be ready. We’ve been through a difficult period lately but our play is improving and winning our last two matches has given us confidence.”
With Tiago expected to miss out, Kim Källström steps into the Lyon midfield.
Doni; Christian Panucci, Matteo Ferrari, Philippe Mexes, Max Tonetto; David Pizarro, Daniele De Rossi; Taddei, Simone Perrotta, Mancini; Francesco Totti.
Grégory Coupet; Anthony Réveillère, Sébastien Squillaci, Cris, Eric Abidal; Juninho Pernambucano, Jérémy Toulalan, Kim Källström; Sidney Govou, Florent Malouda, Fred.