UEFA Europa Conference League


See what Roma boss Jose Mourinho had to say ahead of Thursday's Europa Conference League quarter-final decider at the Stadio Olimpico...

Bodo/Glimt come into the game holding a slender 2-1 advantage from the first leg - although, with no away goals rule in place, the Giallorossi know a one-goal win will at least guarantee them extra-time in the tie.

The match gets underway at 21:00 CEST.

What are your feelings on the eve of this game? How do you think the squad are looking ahead of the game?

“We are looking good, we want to play the game. Obviously Thursday and Sunday we have had two tough games, and on Sunday we had to dig deep in order to eventually get the result we wanted. But we have now had three days since then, which is a normal amount of time to completely recover. The players are all doing well, there’s no injury worries and we are all available – Spinazzola remains the only one who can’t play a full game.

“We know it is going to be tough, we know that our opposition are a quality side, and we know that it is currently 2-1 in their favour. That’s nothing new. On Sunday we were 1-0 down against Salernitana. Now Bodo have the 2-1 advantage.

“We have 90 minutes to win this game. It will be difficult and I am fully expecting a very difficult game. But we are good, we are well-prepared and I am very confident in my lads.”

Do you want to go back over what happened in Norway? How will you focus on such an important game without thinking about the tension that surrounds it?

“I haven’t seen any player feeling the tension. And I didn’t in any of the three games [against Bodo] we have already played. The first game was an historic defeat for us. As a club, and as professionals. But our conduct was, in my opinion, exemplary in the way we reacted to losing in the way we lost.

“We showed a spirit of fair play, a dignity and a comportment that was unusual. Usually people react in negative ways to something like that, but we showed honour, outside of the humiliation of the result itself. After that we have played two further games against them without any issues, without any problem with the referee or anything else.

“What happened on Thursday evening was something detached from the contest. The game was normal, the end of the game was normal and 45 minutes after the game the situation was normal. And then there was an ugly moment, but one that bears no relation to anything else that happened.

“And that’s it. Tomorrow we just want to play. And I think that they just want to play. We want to reach the semi-finals and so do they.

“We will have the advantage of a home crowd. Of our fans. In these situations, in knockout football, then the support of the fans can have a decisive impact. We want to play football, just like in the other meetings – including the one we lost 6-1.

“Tomorrow I am expecting a football match where the best team wins and I am convinced that we are the best team.”

The substitutes’ bench is becoming a real asset for Roma, with nine goals scored from it so far this season. There has also been a lot of talk about the pressure the bench applies on officials during a game, but I watched Sunday's game back and I could only see them celebrating the goals and appealing for penalties. What do you have to say about that?

“Thank you for the question, I like both parts of it. Having options off the bench is very, very important. Right now I think the opposite of what I was thinking during some of the tougher periods of the season. In those tougher period we did not have many options off the bench. Right now, however, we have four, five or six players that have regularly started games or are players with specific attributes that mark them out from some of the others.

“We would not have won the game against Salernitana [on Sunday] without the substitutions. We were playing against an ultra-defensive side. We needed freshness, tactical differences and we kept changing and changing until we found a way to equalise. That was hugely important.

“Maybe tomorrow there will be five or six changes to make – and if we do make six then it means just four outfield players will play 120 minutes. Anyone who watched Real Madrid’s game against Chelsea will have realised what a difference the bench can make to results.

“As far as your other question goes, I am pleased that you have seen what you have seen. I hold onto a principle that was around long before propaganda. People say that if you keep repeating a lie then some people will start to believe it. But even if you keep repeating a lie, it will always still be a lie. That’s my response.”

With this being a game that you need to win by two clear goals, do you think it is best to start with a different setup than usual?

“It’s only a minimal difference, it’s not like we have lost 2-0 or 3-0. We don’t need to do something dramatic to change the dynamic of the match. It’s only 2-1 to them. We just need to score once to level things up on aggregate. So it’s a bit much for dramatic changes – not least because we haven’t even had time to work on something like that in training.

“Against Salernitana we started with three in defence and finished with four. We started with one striker and ultimately played with two. We don’t have many tactical surprises to spring. But the message during the Salernitana game was simple. I told them, 'Don’t worry, we are only 1-0 down, we just need to keep playing our way.' This time we have 90 minutes to do that.

“So we can stay calm, but we also need to come out strong from the off. If you ask me if we have prepared for penalties, then yes we have. But if you ask me if I want to go to penalties? Then no, I don’t want to go to penalties. We will try to win during the 90 minutes. But, as I have said before, they need to be respected because they are a good side.”

(Photo LaPresse)