17th March, 2023
Jose Mourinho took aim at Serie A rivals Juventus and Lazio after seeing his Roma side progress to the Europa League quarter-finals on Thursday.
Roma earned a 0-0 draw at Real Sociedad in the second leg of their last-16 tie, winning 2-0 on aggregate.
Speaking to Sky Sport Italia after the game, Mourinho could not resist indirectly referring to Juventus, who also went through against Freiburg, claiming they should not have been allowed to move into the Europa League after being eliminated from the Champions League group stage.
He did directly mention Lazio though, who were beaten 2-1 on Thursday by AZ Alkmaar, losing 4-2 on aggregate to crash out of the Europa Conference League.
“I don’t care about the draw, there are teams there that in my opinion shouldn’t be there, because whoever is eliminated in a competition has to go home,” he said. “If a team that has been eliminated from the Champions League wins, it doesn’t mean anything to me because we’ve been here from the beginning.
“Lazio? They won’t have a third competition to play in.”
Roma had to soak up pressure against La Real, facing 19 shots to three and only having 24 percent possession.
“After the 2-0 first leg [win], the home team risks everything and does everything possible,” Mourinho said. “They did everything with the support from the stadium, but the boys today had everything, the ambition to score in the first 15-20 minutes where we dominated and pressed, then we controlled the counter-attack well.
“We never stopped looking for the goal, even when [Tammy] Abraham and [Stephan] El Shaarawy came on, congratulations to the boys, it’s thanks to them. It’s a very strong Europa League, we have eliminated two quality opponents and we are in the quarter-finals with many top-level teams.”
Mourinho has enjoyed plenty of success in Europe, winning two Champions League, two UEFA Cup/Europa Leagues, and last year’s inaugural Europa Conference League.
Roma will enter Friday’s last-eight draw along with Juventus, Manchester United, Feyenoord, Sporting CP, Sevilla, Bayer Leverkusen, and Union Saint-Gilloise.
“We are not the strongest team in the world but we are a group that knows how to stay together,” he added.