The year is 2022. We are set to witness another European club final that is not the UEFA Champions League or Europa League. It is the final of the Europa Conference League, Europe’s third-tier club competition
Roma will take on Feyenoord tonight in Tirana and it truly is worth a keen watch. Perhaps not as hyped as the first two competitions, but it presents a great rivalry for more clubs on the continent. This, it achieves with the size and stature of these finalists.
The Serie A side has an opportunity to salvage a rather average season by winning a continental title.
And knowing the competitive nature of Jose Mourinho, he will be giving it a good go. In fact, if he wins the title, he will become the first-ever manager to win all European trophies.
Feyenoord, on the other hand, were impressive in the Dutch Eredivisie finishing third. They could also become the first Dutch club to win a European title in 20 years.
This final gears up for an exciting battle with everything on the line.
Roma’s Road To The Final
Having finished disappointingly in seventh place last season, the Giallarossi looked to build once again. They hired Mourinho and signed Tammy Abraham from Chelsea amid other names.
They finished top of Group C, one point ahead of Bodo/Glimt (who hit them for six) with 13 points to qualify for the knockouts.
Mourinho’s men narrowly edged past Vitesse 2-1 on aggregate in the second leg thanks to Abraham’s last-gasp goal.
A comprehensive home win ensured the Italian side defeated now-familiar opposition, Bodo/Glimt 5-2 in the last eight.
They did enough to eliminate Leicester City 2-1 on aggregate to set up a meeting in the final.
Feyenoord’s Journey To Tirana
The Dutch made it to the final in stellar fashion, losing none of their 12 matches.
They cruised through Group E containing Slavia Praha, Union Berlin and Maccabi Haifa with six wins and 14 points to advance.
Feyenoord, under former manager, Sipke Hulshoff, scored eight goals in both legs against Partizan in the round of 16.
The men from the Netherlands needed a brilliant away win to go past Slavia Praha in the quarterfinals. They finished the business mostly at home 3-2 in the semi-finals against Marseille.
What To Expect
As Mourinho put it, Roma won their “first final” of the season last weekend against Torino to confirm sixth position. The objective will now be to end the season with a trophy.
Feyenoord, on the other hand, was a 10-match unbeaten run before the final day loss to FC Twente.
The signing of Abraham has proved to be a masterstroke. The England international has an overall tally of 27 goals including 9 in the Conference League. He will fancy his chances tonight.
Arne Slot thinks Mourinho will play the same way he’s known for: long balls in possession and aggression out of it. This will likely be the Portuguese’s tactic.
Lorenzo Pellegrini will also prove crucial in helping to create chances for the side from the Italy Capital.
Slot’s men will aim to control possession and dictate the flow of the game from midfield with as much intensity in attack.
Cyriel Dessers has been excellent this season. His manager will count on him to be clinical. Orkun Korcu will also hope to influence the action from the middle.
This promises to be a cracking affair with both sides keen to end the season positively. Mourinho has never lost a European final. And yet, he will need a perfect game against Feyenoord to retain his perfect record.