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Roma closing gap to Juventus, says Spalletti

17:47 GMT+3 08/04/2017
Luciano Spalletti - cropped
The gap in quality between the two sides has diminished over the last 18 months, the coach maintains, with his side currently six points behind

Luciano Spalletti insists Roma are narrowing the gap to Serie A leaders Juventus, with his side six points behind the reigning champions with eight games to go.

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Juve have the chance to stretch their advantage at the top when they host Chievo on Saturday, with Roma travelling to Bologna on Sunday.

Spalletti's men will be looking to bounce back from the disappointment of Tuesday's Coppa Italia semi-final aggregate loss to rivals Lazio, but the Italian insists his side are still making progress.

"I know that in 18 months we have amassed many more points compared to other sides, but in football you can only be happy if you win," Spalletti told reporters. "A coach must feel that and speak clearly to the fans.

"In order to challenge Juventus, you need work and planning. They have the advantage, there's no two ways about it, but I think over these 18 months the gap between us has diminished."

Spalletti accepted it will be tough for his side to recover after their Coppa exit to Lazio, despite winning the second leg 3-2, but said the Serie A run-in offers a chance for redemption, with the coach particularly targeting defensive improvements.

"We have eight games left to play and they could prove decisive in shaping the future of this club and the future of this team," Spalletti said. "There's a lot to play for and that's what I'm focusing all my efforts on.

"There is a risk that our cup exit might have repercussions and knock us out of our stride but we've spoken together and said we need to be even more professional and work even harder on certain things, like getting behind the ball and winning tackles - that's crucial if we want to get through this moment.

"We have to grin and bear it but the lads have looked full of desire and determination in the last few days."

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Daniele De Rossi is an injury doubt for the trip to Bologna and Spalletti is expecting Roberto Donadoni's side to provide a stiff challenge as Roma seek a sixth straight win in all competitions.

"Donadoni is a highly professional, experienced coach and he's always been able to get his teams playing good football," Spalletti added. "Bologna can be hard to read because they have pace and power up front and skilful players.

"They've also won two of their last three games and they only lost at Fiorentina in the final minutes. They're in a comfortable league position so they're under no pressure to get a result. It's going to be a very tricky game and we'll need to be at our absolute best if we want to win it."