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A match that will reopen the play, and which could be quite significant on that long march towards lo scudetto, something like this truly deserves a figure who can generate more hype towards the game. That's why, just three days from the big match with Milan at the Olimpico, Roma have sent in front of the microphones at Trigoria their captain. And Francesco Totti, to confirm the excellent period that his team is going through, doesn't have any difficultly facing the journalists, interpreting everything in that same spirit which he's demonstrated on more than one occasion, above all, when he was able to laugh at himself in a joke book which later became a bestseller.

With his behavior the captain has promised that over the Christmas break they did not get distracted. Roma, in short, want to pick up right where they left off in 2003: winning, they want to finish the round as winter champions. It's his job to make spectacular plays. And to speak clearly. Because a fuoriclasse cannot (and should not) have fear of anybody. Respect yes, but fear is not a word in Francesco's vocabulary. In addition, the captain wants to promise a special goal, as only a champion can do, that will be talked about throughout Europe, because he now understands that not having been recognized in that last Pallone d'Oro hurt, even if he says the opposite.

"I'm hoping to score a goal like I did against Bucci when he played with Torino," remembers the number 10, "Dida is inform, however I could even score a 'cucchiaio. Certainly, the keepers know me, but I will always try. I will do anything that comes to mind..." The promises are good, even his spirit. Totti knows however that it will not be a game like all the others: "It won't be an easy game. We will be playing against the Champions of Europe. Should we win it would be a nice move forward."

With all this said, the captain still believes that it's still too early to talk about any tricolore. The championship is still long. Before the year end break, Milan were not going through a happy period, collecting losses in their last two games (with Boca Juniors and with Udinese), perhaps it would have been better for Roma to have faced them before the break. "Perhaps this break has done well for them," observes Totti, "since they were coming off similar results. For us it could be the right moment to give them the definitive killer blow. But the break is good for every team, it rejuvenates them. I believe that at the end the best team will win. And as of right now it's Roma."

This is not to say that the captain thinks that the game is already said and done: "We will go onto the field to win, but we will be playing against a great team and it will not be easy. Everything is possible, perhaps even a draw. Milan always are fearful, but us at the Olimpico can be hurtful." Roma have an impressive streak going at home this year. Totti does not have revenge on the mind for the loss in last years Coppa Italia final. "That is already forgotten," he confirms, "but revenge is always there when you play against a big team. They say that us and Milan play the best football. I look at only Roma. We are doing amazing things. This could be enough, then if they play better and win.... The important thing for us is always to win."

Is Milan without Nesta less strong? "I won't say that it's better for us, but almost. Let's not forget that there is Maldini and Costacurta. However if I would take away one player at Milan I would take away Sheva." And would you bring him to Roma? "I would bring all the champions, him, Vieri, Davids." Then Totti reveals: "With Vieri to pass time in the National team we talked about this possibility, just like this, to entertain ourselves. And he was enjoying the idea."

Counseling Sensi for the acquisitions or for those that will come, but that which counts the most is the present. "And we are an excellent group, united right from the day we got together. Now we are even more stimulated, even if the results keep you more relaxed." Is this Roma stronger or the one that captured the scudetto? "That of the title," responds Totti, "because this team still hasn't won anything, but it can and it has to." The giallorosso captain doesn't think that Juve are in crisis, but the only adversary that Roma must worry about is only one: "Roma itself. It's that which worries me the most."

Thinking a little bit more about himself, here are some of his objectives: "I arrived at 18th place in the Pallone d'Oro. It means that I have still a lot to do and I will do it. This is the best Totti ever because I look to improve myself, therefore the last one is always the most inform. Trapattoni didn't vote for me? It didn't worry me, he always said that he would and then he didn't. But it's all right, it's up to me to do better." Totti perhaps ignores the fact that a coach cannot vote for a player which plays on his national team....

The Captain at the end cannot help but talk about Cassano, and he does it among being serious and playful. "He's a champion and when I will no longer be there he will take Roma in his hands. When I won't be there, among ten years......"
 

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Totti: We are simply the best Sunday 4 January, 2004

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Francesco Totti is brimming with confidence ahead of Tuesday's showdown with Milan and insists Roma are superior to the European Champions.

¡§May the best team win,¡¨ smiled the Giallorossi captain, ¡§and right now Roma are the better side.¡¨

The Capital club took advantage of the fact Milan have a game in hand to steam six points ahead of the chasing pack and are the only squad to remain unbeaten in Serie A.

¡§I think the Rossoneri were more than happy to go into the Christmas break after their defeats to Boca Juniors and Udinese,¡¨ continued Totti. ¡§We could have given them the final blow of a third consecutive defeat.¡¨

Milan may well be forced to change their tactics after Alessandro Nesta and Kakha Kaladze pulled out with injuries.

¡§The fact that Nesta will be out is obviously an advantage for us,¡¨ noted the Azzurri hero. ¡§If I could take a player away from them it would be Andriy Shevchenko as he is the Serie A top scorer.¡¨

The Italian international feels he has a point to prove after failing to receive a single vote in the FIFA World Player of the Year awards.

¡§2003 was a good year for me personally, even if Roma didn¡¦t achieve great results, but I am improving with every game.¡¨

¡§I believe that currently I am the best I have ever been in my career, but I have a lot to prove still and am only 70 per cent fit. In a month or so I shall be at peak fitness for the final Scudetto push.¡¨

Totti has scored for the last five Serie A games on the trot and has the opportunity to make his mark in Portugal this summer.

¡§I have three objectives for 2004,¡¨ he added. ¡§They are the Scudetto, the European Championships and the Player of the Year award.¡¨

channel4
 

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Zanetti tips Roma for the title Sunday 4 January, 2004

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Javier Zanetti believes that Inter can challenge for the Scudetto, but admits that the Giallorossi have the upper hand.

¡§Roma are an excellent side,¡¨ noted the captain, ¡§that has a solid defence and many talented individuals. I only hope their progress slows soon, because right now they are admittedly the best team.¡¨

The Capital club is now six points clear at the top of the table, but Inter fans may be forced to support their arch rivals Milan on Tuesday evening.

¡§All the Scudetto clashes are tough games to call this season as Roma, Milan, Juve, Lazio and Inter are still more than capable of taking the title.¡¨

channel4
 
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