AS Roma and Feyenoord will lock horns with each other in Albania this week to become the inaugural winners of the UEFA Europa Conference League.
Arena Kombetare in Tirana, Albania, will provide the setting for the first-ever UEFA Europa Conference League final as Italian giants AS Roma clash against Dutch heavyweights Feyenoord to become the inaugural winners of the competition.
The tertiary continental competition in Europe is in its first edition and has thrown some surprises towards the fans along the way, including the early elimination of a big club like Tottenham and Roma’s 6-1 hammering at the hands of minnows Bodo/Glimt in the group stages. The Giallorossi did not let that outlier affect them, though, as they finished at the top of Group C to progress to the knockout phase.
Roma narrowly beat Dutch side Vitesse 2-1 on aggregate in the Round of 16 before overturning a first-leg deficit to eliminate Bodo/Glimt from the quarter-finals with a 5-2 aggregate victory. Jose Mourinho’s men then managed to get the better of Premier League side Leicester City over two legs in the semi-finals to book a place in the final at Tirana as they hope to win their first trophy since 2008.
Feyenoord, meanwhile, finished at the top of Group E, which also consisted of Slavia Praha, Union Berlin and Maccabi Haifa, going unbeaten in the round (W4 D2). Arne Holt’s men then breezed past Partizan Belgrade (8-3 on aggregate) in the Round of 16 before defeating Slavia Praha 6-4 on aggregate in the quarter-finals.
The Dutch giants then oversaw a 3-2 aggregate win over French outfit Olympique de Marseille in the semi-finals to set up a date with Roma in Albania. Feyenoord have incredibly gone undefeated in the competition and will now be aiming to lift their first European trophy in 20 years.
Roma head into the finals on the back of a 3-0 win over Torino in their final Serie A fixture of the season, while Feyenoord were defeated 2-1 by Twente in their last Eredivisie encounter ahead of the Conference League showpiece event.
Team News & Tactics
— UEFA Europa Conference League (@europacnfleague) May 24, 2022
Henrikh Mkhitaryan, who was injured in the semi-final first leg against Leicester City, has returned to training and could be in contention to feature in Tirana. Jose Mourinho will line his team up in a 3-4-1-2 formation in front of goalkeeper Rui Patricio, as the Portuguese tactician looks to become the first manager to win the Champions League, Europa League and the Europa Conference League.
The three-man backline should consist of Gianluca Mancini, Chris Smalling and Roger Ibanez, who will have their task cut out against Cyriel Dessers. Rick Karsdorp and Nicola Zalewski ought to be the two wing-backs on the right and left sides, respectively, with the pair tasked with providing the width going forward when Roma are in possession and attacking their opponents.
Bryan Cristante and Janaury signing Sergio Oliveira should hold the fort in the centre of the park for the Giallorossi, while Lorenzo Pellegrini will don the creative hat, lining up in the No. 10 role. Leading goalscorer Tammy Abraham will spearhead the Roma attack up top with Nicolo Zaniolo for support.
Probable Lineup (3-4-1-2): Patricio; Mancini, Smalling, Ibanez; Karsdorp, Cristante, Oliveira, Zalewski; Pellegrini; Zaniolo, Abraham
Orkun Kokcu picked up an injury in Feyenoord’s last league game and could be a doubt for this fixture. Justin Bijlow misses out with an injury, but left-back Tyrell Malacia will be back into the squad after missing the last game due to suspension.
— Feyenoord Rotterdam (@Feyenoord) May 24, 2022
Arne slot is expected to set his Feyenoord side in a 4-3-3 formation in front of goalkeeper Ofir Marciano. Gernot Trauner and Marcos Senesi will shield the custodian from the heart of the defence while Lutsharel Geertruida and the returning Malacia occupy the full-back slots. The latter, in particular, could act as a key attacking outlet with his forward forays from the left flank.
Fredrik Aursnes should line up as the deepest of the three midfielders and look to keep a tight lid on the output of Lorenzo Pellegrini on Wednesday night. With Kokcu a doubt, Jens Toornstra is likely to come into the starting XI and partner Guus Til in the centre of the park, trying to provide the forward thrust when in possession.
On-loan Arsenal forward Reiss Nelson has impressed with the Dutch club and should occupy the right flank while Luis Sinisterra takes up the opposite wing. Leading the line for the Dutch giants will be Europa Conference League’s top scorer this season, Cyriel Dessers.
Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Marciano; Geertruida, Trauner, Senesi, Malacia; Toornstra, Aursnes, Til; Nelson, Dessers, Sinisterra
- AS Roma have not lifted a trophy since winning the Coppa Italia in 2008. The Giallorossi have not won a European trophy since the Fairs Cup in 1961.
- Feyenoord have not reached a European final since winning the 2002 UEFA Cup.
- AS Roma manager Jose Mourinho has won each of his past four finals in European competitions – twice with FC Porto (UEFA Cup, Champions League) and once each with Inter Milan (Champions League) and Manchester United (Europa League).
- Feyenoord striker Cyriel Dessers is the leading goalscorer in the UEFA Europa Conference League this season with ten goals.
- Roma have won just two of their previous eight matches in all competitions, whereas Feyenoord have triumphed in five of their last eight matches across all competitions.
Player to Watch
Mourinho does this with every striker,
but some will disagree…
32 Goals and Assists, for Tammy Abraham in his debut season in Serie A, with yet a European Final to play,
The Mourinho Effect is Massive 🐐 pic.twitter.com/GChuuOBwnv
— MourinhoXtra™ (@Mourinho_Xtra) May 21, 2022
Having moved to Italy from England last summer, Tammy Abraham has been a brilliant addition for AS Roma, and has been critical to their run to the finals of the UEFA Europa Conference League. The 24-year-old has plundered 27 goals in 52 games across all competitions this season, with nine of those coming in the Conference League.
The England international was on target in the 1-0 semi-final second leg win over Leicester City that helped Roma secure a place in the final. And Abraham will be hoping to fire the Giallorossi to their first trophy in well over a decade on Wednesday.
AS Roma 1-0 Feyenoord
AS Roma have not been in the best of form heading into the finals of the UEFA Europa Conference League. But with Jose Mourinho on their side, they go into the game with an edge over Feyenoord, even though the Dutch giants are yet to lose in the competition.
The Portuguese tactician has an impeccable record in European finals, and with an in-form Tammy Abraham leading the attack, the Giallorossi should be able to secure a narrow victory in Albania to be crowned the inaugural Conference League champions.