At 60 years old, AS Roma coach Jose Mourinho is a game changer. Just when you thought every game on the schedule for the rest of the season was going to be important, Mourinho ditches the domestic league in favor of European competition.
AS Roma and Salernitana played to a 2-2 draw in the 36th round of the 2022-2023 Italian Serie A at the Stadio Olimpico in Rome, Italy, on Wednesday.
It was a game that Roma didn’t play at full strength. It cost them dearly. Roma is now sixth, thanks to Juventus dropping to seventh place after a point deduction, recovery, and 10-point reclassification. With only four points separating them from fourth-place AC Milan, and two games remaining per team, it’s hard to catch up. A win over Salernitana would have reduced the gap to just two points.
Roma have been in a terrible slump lately, with four draws and two losses in their last six Serie A games, partly due to a drop in form, but also because there’s something more important than league position. It’s the UEFA Europa League final, which Roma is in. On June 1, they’ll play Sevilla, the competition’s reigning champions, at the Puszkász Arena in Budapest, Hungary.
Mourinho’s decision to forgo the league is reminiscent of Manchester United’s most recent Europa League final in 2016-2017. At the time, Mourinho made a last-minute switch to the Europa League at the end of the season, when both the English Premier League (EPL) title and the race for the top spot were on the line. By the time they faced Celta Vigo in the quarterfinals in early May, they had dropped 1.5 points in the EPL. They were unbeaten in 25 games in the EPL (13 wins, 12 draws), so a late-season winning streak would have given them a good chance of finishing fourth, but after the Celta game, back-to-back losses to Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur and a draw with Southampton saw them slip down the league table. All of these games were played with non-starters, and as a result, we dropped eight points in our final four games, leaving us in sixth place, seven points behind fourth-place Liverpool. We could have finished fourth if we had gone all out in the league.
Instead of abandoning the league altogether, we went all-in on the Europa League, which resulted in a 2-0 win over Ajax in the Europa League final. They won the trophy and qualified for the UEFA Champions League (UCL) the following season as Europa League winners, making the fourth place finish irrelevant.
Roma’s path this season has been similar. Similar to United, Roma suffered a rash of late-season injuries, and in the midst of it all, they made it to the Europa League quarterfinals against German giants Bayer 04 Leverkusen, where they played some brutal, physical football to earn a 1-1 draw.
Serie A gave up a lot to go all-in on the Europa League. Bologna even left goalkeeper Huy Patriciu off the roster for the game against Bologna, sandwiched between two Europa League quarterfinal matches, and gave the first team as much rest as possible, with 19-year-old prospect Filippo Missori getting his first first-team start and 20-year-old Benjamin Tahirovic his second first-team start.
The match against Salernitana on the 23rd was not immediately followed by a Europa League game, so Mourinho could have used the first team, albeit with some fatigue from the Leverkusen game, but he went a step further. Striker Tammy Abraham, midfielders Luca Pellegrini, Nemanja Matic, and Bryan Cristante were all substitutes. 먹튀검증
In addition, Roma’s best player, Paulo Dybala, has been missing for a while now, although he doesn’t appear to be suffering from any injury. He is not currently injured, but has been on the bench for over a month due to poor form. Mourinho has decided to leave him out of the lineup altogether and focus on his recovery, rather than using him sparingly in every game. Coach Thiago Pinto expressed confidence in Dybala’s recovery, saying, “We will take him to Budapest in as good shape as possible,” but Mourinho said, “Dybala’s condition is not good. If you ask me if he can play in the Europa League final, the answer is negative.”