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Mourinho disappointed with Roma players

by Rob Dawson
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AS Roma’s head coach, Jose Mourinho, criticized the team’s performance, except for 21-year-old midfielder Edoardo Bove, in their 0-2 defeat against Slavia Prague in the fourth round of Group G in the Europa League.

“Today, Roma lacked everything,” Mourinho said after the match at Sinobo Stadium. “I don’t want to say much, and neither does anyone else. This result is deserved, positively for Slavia Prague and negatively for us.”

Playing as guests in the Czech Republic, Roma struggled with only 40% possession and failed to register a shot on target in the first half. The Italian capital club improved in the second half but managed only two shots on target.

Mourinho during the press conference after Roma’s defeat to Slavia Prague in the fourth round of Group G Europa League on November 9th.

The first opportunity for the away team came in the 52nd minute when Andrea Belotti entered the penalty area and shot with his left foot, but Ales Mandous made a save. In the 66th minute, Zeki Celik broke through three Slavia Prague players in the midfield but couldn’t beat the home goalkeeper with his right-footed shot.

On the other hand, Slavia Prague played vigorously, taking 19 shots – almost four times more than Roma’s 5 shots – with seven shots on target and goals from Lukas Masopust and Vaclav Jurecka.

Mourinho anticipated difficulties by leaving Bryan Cristante and Paulo Dybala on the bench, but he did not expect his players to perform so poorly. The “Special One” singled out Edoardo Bove, the 21-year-old who played the full 90 minutes, for showing his desired fighting spirit. “I liked Bove’s performance, the 21-year-old, but he alone is not enough to help Roma win. All the players deserve to be criticized tonight, except Bove,” emphasized the Portuguese coach.

At Sinobo Stadium on November 9th, Bove touched the ball 58 times, had a 78% passing accuracy with a key pass, won seven duels, won two aerial fights, and was fouled four times. The 21-year-old midfielder also scored the fastest goal in Roma’s UEFA Cup history, opening the scoring in the 43rd second in the 2-0 win against Slavia Prague at Olimpico Stadium on October 26th.

Similarly, striker Andrea Belotti was dissatisfied with the team’s spirit. “I think Roma lacked the right attitude on the field and should have performed better both with and without the ball,” admitted the Italian forward. “We almost did nothing in the first half. This is a significant issue when playing at this level. I don’t think the problem is physical or fatigue, but rather a wrong attitude.”

The defeat yesterday left Roma without control in the race for the top spot in Group G. Roma and Slavia Prague both won 2-0 at home and have nine points, but the Czech representatives are ahead due to a better goal difference. Mourinho’s team must win convincingly in the last two matches against Servette on November 30th and Sheriff on December 14th while hoping for Slavia Prague to stumble or score fewer goals to regain the top spot.

If they finish second in the group, Roma will have to play two playoff rounds against a team from the third-placed Champions League group, as they did last season. After finishing third, Mourinho’s squad will drop down to the Europa Conference League, where they were crowned champions in 2021.

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