No anti-Messi plan as Roma target Barca result

Roma coach Rudi Garcia said there will no plans to target Barcelona's Lionel Messi and has warned his side will aim to "get a result" when the sides meet in a Champions League Group E opener on Wednesday.

No anti-Messi plan as Roma target Barca result
Roma Boss Rudi Garcia has said his side do not have a specific plan to deal with Lionel Messi (R) ahead of tonight's Champions League clash. Photo: Alberto Pizzoli/AFP

Roma host the defending European champions on the back of some strong performances this season including a 2-1 win over Italian champions Juventus two weeks ago.

Garcia fully expects the Spanish league giants, who swept Juventus aside 3-1 in last May's Berlin final and beat Roma 3-0 in a pre-season friendly, to be a tough nut to crack at their Stadio Olimpico.

But he said Roma would take a collective approach to countering the threat of Messi, Luis Suarez or Andres Iniesta.
“We don't have an anti-Messi plan, just as there isn't one to stop Suarez or Iniesta,” Garcia told media in the Italian capital on Tuesday.

“As (midfielder) Daniele De Rossi has said, you deal with the threat collectively, both in attack and defence.”

Roma's fans are still hurting from a 7-1 thrashing by Bayern Munich in last season's group stages, a reverse that contributed to the Giallorossi failing to make the last 16.

Barcelona are favoured by many to claim a second successive title and Garcia underlined exactly where Luis Enrique's men are strongest.

“They like to keep the ball and they have lots of pace up top to strike at the right time, making the most of quick breaks,” he said.

“We have to come out well when we have the chance to. Our aim is to get a result based on the quality of our players, thanks to a good team approach in both phases of the game.”

“Although at times we will have to, we won't just sit back and let Barcelona play football. We need to counteract their pressing, a tactic they use when they lose possession and want to win it back quickly.”

“If we do that, we can start thinking positively.”

Roma invested substantially during the summer transfer period with strikers Edin Dzeko (loan) and Juan Iturbe arriving from Manchester City and Genoa respectively and winger Mohamed Salah coming on loan from Chelsea via Fiorentina.

In defence, the Giallorossi have been bolstered notably by the signing of Antonio Rudiger and Lucas Digne, who have both made a positive impression so far this season.

Garcia is still missing creative midfielder Miralem Pjanic through injury, but brushed off the Bosnian's absence.

“There's no point crying about players who can't play, we have to focus on the players we have available and get the best out of them,” he said.

He added: “We all know Barcelona are the reigning European champions. If they're not the best in the world, they're certainly up there.

“We'll play with humility tomorrow but also ambition. We want to qualify for the next round so we need to perform well in all six games.”

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Italy makes move to clear out ‘illegal’ Roma camps

Italy's anti-immigrant Interior Minister Matteo Salvini ordered a report Tuesday on the country's Roma population, with a view to shuttering overcrowded, "illegal" camps, provoking an angry response from rights campaigners.

Italy makes move to clear out 'illegal' Roma camps
Illustration photo: AFP

The head of the far-right League ordered the country's regional prefects to draw up “a report on the presence of Roma, Sinti and Caminanti” within two weeks, the interior ministry said in a statement.

“The aim is to verify the presence of illegal camps to draw up an eviction plan,” it said.

The Roma, Sinti and Caminanti are traditionally nomadic ethnic groups who have lived in Europe for centuries.

The Sinti are traditionally from west and central Europe, while Roma have their origins in the east and southeast of the continent. The Caminanti are believed to have their origins in the Norman occupation of Sicily.

The pro-Roma group Associazione 21 Luglio said Tuesday it was “deeply worried” by Salvini's order.

It slammed “a measure which clearly discriminates against these communities, since it does not affect, for example, formal or informal settlements inhabited by persons not belonging to these ethnic groups”.

Some 25,000 Roma, Sinti and Caminanti live in conditions of “housing segregation”, according to the association, accusing the government of maintaining “ethnic ghettos”.

About 15,000 members of the three groups reside in 127 formal settlements in Italy, often in the suburbs of large cities, according to the group.

The rest live instead in informal settlements, some of which are made up of just two to three families.

There are about 300 such informal settlements in Rome, the Associazione 21 Luglio told AFP.

Threats against the Roma and Sinti have increased under Salvini, who sparked controversy last year with his call for a new census of Roma, and for all non-Italians among them to be expelled from the country.

Salvini has also barred Italy's ports to charity vessels rescuing migrants at sea.

The Council of Europe estimates there are between 120,000 and 180,000 Roma, Sinti and Caminanti in Italy — one of the lowest concentrations in Europe.

Over half are Italian citizens with regular jobs and homes, but hate crimes against their less fortunate peers are rife.