Fonseca: ‘I wanted to protect Dzeko’

Roma coach Paulo Fonseca tried to shrug off questions about Edin Dzeko’s Juventus move after he was benched against Verona. ‘We’ll see what happens.’

The Bosnia international watched the entire Serie A season opener from the bench, even though it ended goalless and could’ve done with a star centre-forward.

“We can’t say what would’ve happened if Dzeko had played,” the coach told DAZN.

“I think we had a very good first half, wasting three or four chances to score and that would’ve changed the game. In the second half, with Hellas Verona’s long ball game, we struggled on the second ball and it is difficult to keep possession like that.

“We still created the chances to score a goal and I think if we’d got one in, everything would’ve changed.

“It’s been tough for three weeks of training, but the team is in good shape physically. We didn’t control the second half the way we wanted to, as we didn’t get those second balls, but we finished the match pushing in their penalty area, so it was clearly not a fitness issue.

“I liked the way the team played with three defenders towards the end of last season. I always say we are ready to play either with four or three, but I do like the way this team plays with three.”

With Dzeko seemingly on the verge of a move to Juventus, and Arkadiusz Milik replacing him from Napoli, Roma played with Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Pedro Rodriguez and Lorenzo Pellegrini upfront.

“As Hellas Verona always played it long, it pushed our team deeper and deeper. I liked the first half movements with Mkhi, Pedro and Pellegrini.

“Carles Perez had this COVID problem, he’s not in great physical shape, so I didn’t want to risk him too much. I like this system with Mkhi as a False 9, but we do need another striker too and are working on that. We need a forward who can attack the space.”

Inevitably, Fonseca was asked again about the Dzeko situation, as leaving him on the bench was tacit confirmation he’s preparing to join another club.

“It was a very difficult week for Dzeko. I made this decision to protect him.”

As luck would have it, Roma’s next game is against Juventus, so will Dzeko play and for who?

“We’ll see!”

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