With the second leg of the European Conference League semifinals underway, Jose Mourinho is ready as Roma face Leicester in a challenging game at the Stadio Olimpico.
Throughout the first leg at King Power Stadium, the Giallorossi got off to a strong start as they caused a lot of trouble for Brendan Roger’s side with their fluid, fast-paced play in the offensive zone.
Nicola Zalewski then brilliantly brought down a cross from Nicolo Zaniolo and slid past his marks with his mesmerizing dribbling and pace down the left flank. The Polish full-back threw in a well-weighted pass for Lorenzo Pellegrini between the lines, wide of the defence. The Italian skipper laced the ball once over the far post and put Roma ahead within the first 15 minutes.
Mourinho’s men were unable to hold off the Foxes throughout the game, however, as Ademola Lookman buried Harvey Barnes’ low cross on Rui Patricio in the 66th minute, giving Leicester the equalizer, ending the first leg in a stalemate.
Before the important second leg, Mourinho spoke up press conference and recognized Brendan Rogers incredible success with the Foxes:
“What Leicester are doing after winning the Premiership is fantastic. League, how the club has grown at all levels is fantastic. Happy birthday to everyone. Rodgers doesn’t surprise me, people forget what he did at Liverpool with far fewer resources than Liverpool have now.
“People don’t focus on the Scottish league, he was fantastic there too. Leicester and Rodgers very, very well… I hope tomorrow goes well for us and not for them.”
In addition, the gaffer spoke about the emotional impact of playing in front of a packed Stadio Olimpico:
“We all deserve to finish these two games well at the Olimpico. We play for ourselves, but a lot for the fans: I want the fans to play with us tomorrow. You can be in the stadium as a spectator and be there to play the game.
“If we have 70,000 fans it doesn’t mean anything, if they want to play it’s different. That’s why we ask people: don’t come to see the game, come to the stadium to play.”
He understood the importance of the Conference League to Leicester City.
“To be honest, winning at Leicester means more than winning the title at Chelsea, at Man United. Joking aside, he definitely wants to win. Especially because it’s the only way to get to a European competition next year. The only way to do that is to win the conference league.”
Finally, the ‘Special One’ touches on his desire for the semi-final blockbuster against Leicester:
“It’s the same in every game. I always want to win the next game and the next one is even more a semi-final. Because it gives you the right to play a final. The goal doesn’t change: we want to get to the final, to leave everything we have behind. We are here as a team, there is no Mkhitaryan, but there are others. As a team we are going there tomorrow to fight.”
“It’s not just the next game, it’s a special game. Our run was in the conference league and it was really difficult, there are 14 games and we have a chance to go to the finals, we have to play at our highest level to deserve the finals.”