MILAN (Reuters) - AS Roma coach Eusebio Di Francesco believes his side are not nearly as dull to watch as their miserly record suggests.
Roma, who host Chelsea in a Champions League Group C match on Tuesday, clocked up their third successive 1-0 win when they beat midtable Bologna on Saturday after previously overcoming Torino and lowly Crotone by the same score.
Roma’s visit to Chelsea two weeks ago ended in a 3-3 draw but that performance seems very much the exception for a side who have scored 17 goals and conceded five in 10 league games this season and boast the best defensive record in Serie A.
Di Francesco, however, has never been associated with negative tactics and blamed the low scoring on Roma’s flaws in the final third of the field.
“I wouldn’t say we won ugly, nor would I describe our win against Crotone as such,” he said after Saturday’s game. “When you create lots of openings it casts a 1-0 win in a different light.”
“We made too many mistakes in the opposition half during the opening period today and we didn’t always keep our heads in front of goal. We fashioned lots of good chances -– we just needed to be a bit more clinical in finishing off moves.”
Di Francesco built his coaching reputation during a five-year spell at Sassuolo during which he led them out of Serie B, making their home town of the same name the smallest ever to be represented in the top flight.
There was a six-week interruption in January 2014 when he was sacked but he was quickly reappointed the following month.
In June, he became the eighth coach to occupy the hot seat at Roma in the last nine seasons when he replaced Luciano Spalletti, who left despite leading them to second place in Serie A with a club-record points total.
A former Roma player, Di Francesco quickly brought in his favoured 4-3-3 formation which features one holding player in midfield and two wide players in attack.
Despite a 3-1 home defeat to Spalletti’s new side Inter Milan, Roma have adapted well to Di Francesco’s system, winning eight of their opening 10 Serie A games.
Di Francesco praised his players for “putting in the work both when defending and when attacking, and trying to play the way I want them to play -– which is by having the ball.”
“They’re taking on board certain ideas we’ve been working on since the start of the season, when we had a few teething difficulties,” he said. “Our movement is looking much better oiled now.”
He was especially pleased with the way his midfield and attack had adapted to his pressing-based system.
“The best work for our defensive line is what our midfielders and forwards are doing,” he said. “Even Edin Dzeko up front is chasing down opponents on every ball.”
Writing by Brian Homewood in Berne; Editing by Clare Fallon