The Giallorossi coach on the eve of the semi-final against Bayer Leverkusen: “Dybala and Smalling will be there, not for 90 minutes. We are the only one of the four teams that have come this far not from the Champions League, I could say that we have already won”. And Matic: “It’s the most important race of my career”
– Leverkusen (Ger)
Traffic meant that he arrived at the conference almost an hour late, and for this reason too José Mourinho didn’t seem to be in a good mood. Yet there is no shortage of good news for Rome. “Dybala, El Shaarawy and Smalling are available to play. The question is how long they can do it. The Englishman hasn’t played even a minute and trains separately, Paulo has played about thirty. We have to evaluate how long they can stay on the field: thirty, forty, fifty. Luckily Wijanaldum has played about sixty and then there is also El Shaarawy”.
But the scratch comes. “If I didn’t have the ambition to try to win the Cup, I could say that we have already won it because we are the only semi-finalists who have only played in the Europa League. But this is theory: one of the four will take the Cup home, but it has much more value for a team that has played 14 games as of tomorrow than those built for the Champions League groups, but it is also the beauty of the Europa League. With Betis it was tough, we played the playoffs against a Champions League team like Salzburg, Real Sociedad are already in the Champions League, Feyenoord are already Dutch champions. Of course, it would be better to play at the Olimpico, it would be a different story. But the first home game against Bayer Leverkusen was mentally difficult for us, knowing that we had to win it.” The fact that bookmakers give Roma favorites for the final victory is decided. “Zero superstitious, zero bookmaker, zero favorite. When you get to the semifinals there is 50% going to the final and 25% winning. This is my only bad luck. But I don’t know which direction the match will take. Hard to say. We want to get to the final. There is a lot to play, and we talked about this today. With the 1-0, neither a goal from Bayer nor a goal from Roma can decide it immediately: it’s a long time”.
On his personal future he is armored, but he lets it be understood that uncertainty is strong. “My focus is only on the match against Bayer. I don’t even know if we’re going to the final and I know much less about my future.” The corollary is ecumenical. “The present is more important, the past is the past, we don’t know the future. I happened to play two consecutive finals with Porto. I would like to get there, not so much for me. I have become a different person, I think more of others than of myself. I would like it for the fans, who are extraordinary, and for the boys, who are an incredible group. They give absolutely everything, so they deserve a lot, but nobody gives you anything and therefore we will have to play an extraordinary match to get to the final.” A game of Special One.
Parola a Matic
Nemanja Matic lost a final on the pitch, with Benfica in 2013 in the presence of Chelsea. The other saw you lose sitting on the bench, with Manchester United, who surrendered to Villarreal in 2021. In short, this cup seems almost bewitched to him who has touched it on two occasions without ever being able to conquer it. That’s why the Serbian professor has no doubts, “this is the most important match of my career, because in my head the next match is always the most important”. This time, however, perhaps even more than the others… Matic has won a lot in England and Portugal, but never an international trophy. And then overcoming Bayer Leverkusen tomorrow will also be important to win the chance for revenge. “After those two finals there I obviously want to win, but we know very well that first we have to overcome a tough obstacle like Leverkusen, which certainly won’t be easy”. But Mourinho has prepared it well and he, Matic, knows it better than anyone else, given that he has a special relationship with the Portuguese coach. “It’s true, I have a special relationship with the coach, he gives me confidence and I like working with him. We prepared for this game like all the others, even if the coach has already played games like this and gave us some basic concepts: be concentrated for 90 minutes and give everything for every ball, because Leverkusen have quality, it’s a great team and we know that playing in this stadium will not be easy. We’ve prepared the match, we’ll see how it ends.” And he will give an important hand, with his experience. “But I have nothing to suggest personally to the team, the coach will take care of that. He will only try with my experience to help the team respect the match plan that the coach has illustrated to us ”.
May 17, 2023 (change May 17, 2023 | 21:30)
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