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Is the special one back? Nothing would suggest that more than a 0-0 second leg result in a European knockout game after winning the first leg to nil at home. While away goals are of no use anymore, Roma’s two-legged masterclass against Real Sociedad indicates that Jose Mourinho’s swagger is returning.
After winning the Europa Conference League last season, Mourinho ended Roma’s 14-year wait for a trophy and their 61-year wait for European glory. Mourinho was won everything there is to win in football but he was evidently overjoyed by the success last year and he is threatening to go one better this year by leading Roma to Europa League glory.
While Napoli have ran away with Serie A, there is every chance that Mourinho’s side finish in second place. Italian football is in a good place at the moment with three sides into the Champions League quarter-finals so this would also be quite the accomplishment for Mourinho and his team.
Killing the game in San Sebastian
Real Sociedad are a very good side, so the fact that Roma managed to prevent them from scoring across two matches is seriously impressive. This is a team that sits 4th in La Liga and who beat Manchester United at Old Trafford earlier this season.
However, across the two legs, Mourinho managed to devise a plan to shut them out while also ensuring his side were able to offer an attacking threat going the other way. And that there is the key point here – ever since his second spell at Chelsea, Mourinho’s sides have struggled going forward. While he has always retained his ability to shut up shop, his sides have looked distinctly average going the other way.
This season, Roma’s underlying stats show a team that creates a number of openings each game. They are actually unlucky not to be on significantly more points and with better finishing, they would comfortably be in second place right now with Champions League football for next season all but secured.
After getting their two goals at the Stadio Olimpico last week, everyone knew that Roma would be coming to San Sebastian to park Jose’s famous bus. However, the ease with which they completed their task should be a warning sign to the rest of the teams left in the competition – go a goal behind to this team and you are going to suffer.
The away side conceded just three shots on target throughout and even had a goal of their own chalked off by VAR.
José Mourinho has now qualified for the quarter-finals of an European competition for the 13th time in the last 20 years.
He won 5 of them, only 5 games away from an eventual European trophy no6. pic.twitter.com/qkR16eUWEL
— IM🇵🇹 (@Iconic_Mourinho) March 16, 2023
A man proud of his players
Another sign that Mourinho is in a good place is the fact that he is speaking so positively about his team with such passion. After the match in Spain, he told reporters:
“The lads do the work. I give a little contribution, but it is the team. We have these difficulties, Nemanja Matic had this problem and couldn’t play, so Wijnaldum who didn’t play for six months then had to play 90 minutes twice in three days.
We return to Rome tired but proud of what we have achieved. This type of courage and sacrifice, Belotti who had surgery on his hand a few days ago, Pellegrini with 30 stitches in his head. This proves it all. We are not the best team in the world, but we’re a solid group of players.”