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Europa League

Europa League: Can Jose Mourinho become ‘one of the best’ Roma managers? Or will Sevilla triumph?

The Europa League has come down to this.

In one corner, AS Roma and Jose Mourinho. The Portuguese manager has never lost a European final and is bidding to win back-to-back European titles having led the Italian capital club to the Europa Conference League last season.

And in the other corner, the record-champions, Sevilla. No team can even come close to the Spanish side’s record of six triumphs in this competition.

Europa League

How to watch Sevilla v Roma in the Europa League final

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Ahead of the final on Wednesday, which you can watch live on BT Sport and the BT Sport app, we get in touch with Simone Pace from Eurosport Italy and Jose Arronis from Eurosport Spain to get their thoughts on the final.

Let’s start with the obvious question, how are both teams feeling ahead of this one?

“Roma and their fans approach the Europa League final against Sevilla with great caution,” explains Pace.

“It is one of the most important matches – perhaps the most important – in the last 20 years.

Nemanja Matic of A.S. Roma celebrates after scoring 2-2 during the 36th day of the Serie A Championship between A.S. Roma vs U.S. Salernitana 1919 on May 22, 2023 at the Stadio Olimpico in Rome, Italy.

Image credit: Getty Images

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“Playing against Sevilla is very complicated: they have a great tradition in the Europa League where they have won six out of six finals. Despite this, and especially after winning the Conference League last season, Roma have gained strength and a new, winning mentality. The Giallorossi have a chance that’s for sure.”

As for Sevilla Arronis says that “After a very difficult season they have managed to play another Europa League final somehow.

“The arrival of [manager Jose Luis] Mendilibar has completely changed the team and now they have all the confidence in the world.”

What about player status, any concerns about who will or won’t play?

“The only player who cannot play for Sevilla is left-back Marcos Acuna because he was sent off in the semi-finals,” Arronis says.

Whilst for Roma, Pace adds that “Argentina attacking midfielder Paulo Dybala is the biggest doubt, but there is good news: he has recovered from the ankle injury, and he should play (we’ll see if from the start or during the game).

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“Spinazzola and Smalling are ok: both will be there. Wijnaldum will also be available: he should start from the bench.”

Mourinho and Dybala (Roma)

Image credit: Getty Images

And it’s Dybala who Pace thinks will be the key player, explaining that “I am convinced that Dybala – even if not at his best or fittest – can make a difference and shift the balance.

“Pay attention also to Pellegrini: his position on the pitch and his offensive creativity can cause some problems for Sevilla.”

Arronis picks out striker Youssef En-Nesyri for his incredible work-rate but does point out that: “it is a team without big stars, but it works very well because of that collective cohesion and unity.”

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What about the managers then? For Mourinho this feels as if it could be a real statement – this is a chance to not only take Roma back to the top of European football but to win two European trophies in succession. Where would this put him in the pantheon of Roma managers?

“If Mourinho wins the Europa League, he will become one of the best and most important managers in Roma’s history.

“Just one fact for you: before Mourinho, in almost a hundred years of history, the club had won only once in Europe (Inter-Cities Fairs Cup, the predecessor of the UEFA Cup, in 1961). With Mourinho it would be two wins in two years, a historic back-to-back. For this reason Mou would enter in the historical annals of the club should he win.”

But it’s not just Mourinho where there is an interesting managerial story. Mendilibar, 62, seemed to be out of favour with Spanish clubs after his miraculous work with Eibar. But he was given the call when Sevilla sacked Jorge Sampaoli and he has turned the club around from its disastrous season. There has still been no confirmation on whether he will continue next season, will a win in the final change that?

“It would be a very big surprise if Mendilibar did not continue next year as coach,” says Arronis.

Jose Luis Mendilibar poses with Sevilla’s jersey flanked by sporting director Monchi (R) and Sevilla president Jose Castro (L)

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“He took the team in a very difficult situation and has taken them to the final and has risen many places in the league. The players adore him and the leaders of the club too.”

Arronis ends by saying, “Sevilla’s season has been very tough and this is an occasion they did not expect.

“They are the kings of the competition and go with full confidence. More than 12,000 Sevilla fans are expected in Budapest.”

While Pace focuses on the shift in mentality that has come with Mourinho.

“Absolutely yes [the club’s mentality has changed]. Roma don’t play high-quality football, but they are a united and solid group.

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“From this point of view Mourinho did a great job: he gave the team a new mentality and gave the players the will to win.

“Last year’s win in the Conference League was very important because it gave the club a new, more open and more European focus.

“The fans have understood this, and they follow the team with passion, today more than ever: during this season the Olimpico has often always been sold out (or very close to).”

La Liga

Rodrygo double fires Real Madrid to victory at Sevilla

27/05/2023 AT 16:43

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Serie A

Late Matic equaliser earns point for Roma as Mourinho’s men held by Salernitana

22/05/2023 AT 15:52

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