Roma faces Feyenoord on Wednesday night in Tirana in Albania in the first UEFA Europa Conference League final. Jose Mourinho is chasing his first trophy since 2017’s Europa League success with Man Utd. This could be Roma’s first-ever European silverware whilst Feyenoord could become the first club to win all of Europe’s major club trophies having lifted one European Cup, two UEFA Cups, and one Intercontinental Cup.
The Giallorossi had a mixed league season, finishing sixth in Serie A, some seven points off the UEFA Champions League places. Their last eight matches in all competitions have only seen two wins as the focus moved to try to lift the inaugural UEFA Conference League. Having had a run of seven wins and four draws in 11 league matches at one stage, they went five without victory. A 2-0 loss at Fiorentina was sandwiched by home draws with both Bologna and Venezia. They won 3-0 at Torino to end the Serie A campaign and secure Europa League football next season.
Roma reached the final of this competition having beaten Vitesse, Bodo/Glimt, and Leicester in the knockout rounds. In the quarter-final, they turned around a 2-1 away defeat with a 4-0 home victory against Bodo/Glimt. The semi-final saw a 1-1 draw at The Foxes before beating Leicester 1-0 at the Stadio Olimpico to reach this showpiece.
Roma Team News
Mourinho has been using a back three for most of the matches in recent months. He has big selection decisions in quite a few areas. Skillful forward Nicolo Zaniolo is back from injury and will hope to play in support of Tammy Abraham. Henrikh Mkhitaryan is also fit again and it looks like he or Zaniola will start. Central midfield is a tough area too with Jordan Veretout competing with Bryan Cristante and Sergio Oliveira for two spots.
At left wingback, Leonardo Spinazzola is back after his serious Achilles injury but it remains to be seen if he starts such a big match. Rick Karsdorp should play as the right wingback in preference to Ainsley Maitland-Niles. Chris Smalling played no minutes against Torino and is set to return in the middle of the back three.
Mourinho is desperate to win this trophy having previously won the UEFA Champions League, UEFA Cup, Europa League, and Cup Winners’ Cup (as an assistant coach at Barcelona). He will want to deliver Roma their first European silverware and end his trophy drought as a coach.
Roma won’t be overly defensive despite defending with a back five. The coach could be circumspect in maybe benching Zaniolo and bringing on the mercurial attacker in the second half instead.
Feyenoord finished third in the Eredivisie this season, some 11 points off champions Ajax. Going into the final league fixture, they were 11 matches unbeaten in all competitions. With one eye clearly on this match, they were beaten 2-1 at home by Twente some 10 days before this final.
The Dutch club have not lost any of their last 12 matches in the Europa Conference League, going through the group stage unbeaten before knocking out Partizan Belgrade, Slavia Prague, and Marseille to reach the final. They won those ties 8-3, 6-4, and 3-2 on aggregate respectively. After beating Marseille 3-1 in the Netherlands, they went to France and ground out a 0-0 draw.
Feyenoord Team News
Coach Arne Slot has his number one goalkeeper, Justin Bijlow back in full training after two months out injured. He is not expected to risk Ofir Marciano keeping the jersey. Cyriel Dessers is key upfront, with the Nigerian international bagging ten goals in the Europa Conference League this season after his loan from Genk.
Another loanee in Arsenal’s Reiss Nelson is expected to play down the right flank. He missed the weekend’s match though, so Alireza Jahanbakhsh is another option in that area. Orkun Kokcu got a knock over the weekend but should be fit. Left-back Tyrell Malacia will start having served a suspension.
Slot’s team have been very attacking in this competition, usually looking to outscore opponents. The coach has spoken about his expectation for Roma to play a long-ball game and look to hit the space behind their defence – so he may have his side defend slightly deeper than normal.
Feyenoord have a rich European history and will want to lift their first continental title since the 2002 UEFA Cup where they beat Dortmund.
Roma’s Mourinho has won 4/4 European cup finals as manager
Roma have won 2 of their last 8 matches (all comps)
Roma have lost 2 of their last 5 away matches (UECL – W2, D1)
Roma’s Abraham has 9 UECL goals this season (27 in all competitions)
Feyenoord are unbeaten in their last 12 matches in this competition
Feyenoord have scored 24 goals in their last 11 Conference League matches
Feyenoord’s Dessers has scored 10 UECL goals this term
Feyenoord have won 3 of their last 5 away matches in the UECL (D2
This match is really difficult to call. Feyenoord have looked more consistent in this competition but it’s hard to look past Mourinho’s experience and records in big finals. The match should see both teams on target in 90 minutes and a draw (and therefore extra time) looks like good value as does a straight Roma win – both are options to consider.
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