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Sunday 17 November 2019

It's 'life or death' tie for Roma

AS Roma coach Eusebio Di Francesco. Pic: Reuters/Alberto Lingria
AS Roma coach Eusebio Di Francesco. Pic: Reuters/Alberto Lingria

Roma boss Eusebio Di Francesco wants everyone focused on "a game of life or death" against Porto in the Champions League rather than speculation over his future.

The Giallorossi head to the Estadio do Dragao seeking a swift response following the 3-0 defeat at the hands of their fierce city rivals Lazio in Serie A, which left them fifth.

Reports in Italy have suggested Di Francesco's job is on the line if he fails to take the side into the quarter-finals of Europe's elite club competition.

A double from teenage midfielder Nicolo Zaniolo looked to have put Roma into a strong position in last month's first leg, only for a late effort by Adrian Lopez to leave the tie in the balance.

Di Francesco, though, maintains any uncertainty over his position must not impact on tonight's game.

"My future isn't important right now; what matters is qualification for the last eight," he said at a press conference.

"We have to focus on maintaining our advantage and start again. We need to get our defensive game just right, the rest will take care of itself.

"We are having a tough time. The derby has damaged morale, but this is a game of life or death."

The Giallorossi, who qualified as runners-up in Group G behind Real Madrid, are without winger Cengiz Under and playmaker Javier Pastore because of injury.

Defender Kostas Manolas, who was laid low by a virus, and Zaniolo, the 19-year-old carrying a hip problem, have both travelled.

Di Francesco confirmed his side will line up in a 4-3-3 formation, but gave little else away.

"I want to decide, in the end, by looking into the players' eyes and seeing who is most ready."

CHAMPIONS league

PORTO (1) v ROMA (2)

Live BT Sport 3/Virgin (KO 8.0)

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