Kostas Manolas looks ahead to Roma’s ICC finale against Real Madrid and discusses Alisson’s departure and the impact of Cristiano Ronaldo’s arrival on Serie A.
Roma’s second-half surge saw them come from behind with three unanswered goals to defeat Barcelona at AT&T Stadium.
Fernando Llorente and Lucas Moura blasted Roma with two goals apiece as Tottenham kick off their ICC campaign.

Roma defender Kostas Manolas sat down with ESPN’s Hugo Bernal during the club’s tour of the United States this month.

Playing in the International Champions Cup, the Italian side bounced back from an opening defeat to Tottenham last month to beat Barcelona 4-2.

As the Giallorossi prepare to take on Real Madrid on Tuesday at MetLife Stadium in New Jersey (8 p.m. ET, ESPN), Manolas discussed their preparations for the season, the challenge in Serie A of facing Cristiano Ronaldo and Juventus, and his goals for the future.

ESPN’s Hugo Bernal: How do you see the team?

Kostas Manolas: It’s a great challenge to play teams like Barcelona and Tottenham. In the first game, we didn’t play so good. In the second game, we played a much better game. We scored four goals in the second game, but we have to try to play better. At the end of preseason, I think we’ll be in the condition we’d want.

ESPN: Is this a good parameter to see how the team is going to look for the rest of the season?

Manolas: Of course. Every friendly game helps prepare the team.

ESPN: The next game is against Real Madrid. What comes to your mind when you think of Real Madrid?

Manolas: Real Madrid are the biggest team in the world. Every game against Real Madrid is a tough game. We have to do our job. It’s a friendly, but we have to give our best on the pitch.

ESPN: Does the amount of travel affect performance?

Manolas: When you travel three to four hours, the next day you see your legs are not in the best condition. We have to accept it and go on.

ESPN: New players are coming in. Can Roma look to Serie A as a better team and take Juventus out of their run?

Manolas: We take a lot of players this year. First they have to get used to the things that the coach wants. Juventus are a very good team and favourites to win the title. But we will try to do our best and do better than last year.

ESPN: Do you think Serie A is picking up with new players coming in and with Ronaldo coming to Serie A? Do you think Serie A will be looked at by more people?

Manolas: Of course. When one of the best players comes to Serie A, it’s a very good thing. For us, Ronaldo can be only one spirit extra because when you play against these players, you have to give your best.

ESPN: With other teams signing stars such as Ronaldo, do you see this as motivation?

Manolas: Of course.

ESPN: And would you like to see more players come to Serie A?

Manolas: I’d like to see more come. I’d like to even see it in our team with a player like this. I’d appreciate it.

ESPN: How about the Alisson signing with Liverpool? How does this affect the team?

Manolas: Alisson last season was very important for us. But €75 million is one offer you cannot refuse. We have to accept his decision to go to Liverpool, and we wish him all the best.

ESPN: Last year you were semifinalists in the Champions League. Can you do something similar this year?

Manolas: We will try our best, and you never know. We have a good team, but the pitch will show us everything.

ESPN: What does Roma need to get to Juventus’ spot at the top?

Manolas: I’m not the one to tell you this. We have a technical director. I can only do my job on the pitch.

ESPN: What about personal goals with Greece?

Manolas: We have to start good for preparations for the Euro cup. We saw the last two competitions we weren’t there, and I think these two years we have to be ready to fight.

ESPN: Do you see yourself playing in the Euros in 2020?

Manolas: I hope. I hope. We have to try hard. We are not Brazil. We are Greece. We have to give 100 percent, and I hope everything will be good.

ESPN: You’ve been with Roma for about four years. What’s next?

Manolas: I will make it a fifth. The future is the fifth year in Rome. If I was not comfortable, I would not be here because I like Roma. I like my life in Rome. My family is good. I will stay.

ESPN: What do you need to make it even better?

Manolas: I want to win something. I like to win. I try to win a title. It’s not easy, but I will try hard.

Satlin: Can you describe the ups and downs in the Champions League quarterfinal against Barcelona?

Manolas: In the first game, we lost 4-1, but if you saw the game, you could say if we played the game 10 times we’d never lose 4-1. They make four chances. We made two own goals. Myself and [Daniele] De Rossi. In the second game, we had the belief we could win. It was very difficult. You had a few chances.

You saw with the spirit of our fans and players that we believed from the first minute. After the first and second goal, I believed anything could happen. I was sure when De Rossi scored the second goal that we were going to pass.

ESPN: Do you think that same confidence is with you this upcoming season?

Manolas: We have to. I hope that our team and players will all believe.


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