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Bayer Leverkusen 0-0 Roma (Roma win 1-0 agg): What Did We Learn as Jose Mourinho’s Roma Reach The Europa League Final?

Tom Dunstan in Editorial, UEFA Europa League 19 May 2023

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Putting in a gritty display out in Germany on Thursday night, Roma punched their Europa League final ticket as they secured a 1-0 aggregate victory against Bayer Leverkusen.

In a showdown that was often another cagey affair, it was eventually Edoardo Bove’s first-leg strike that proved to be crucial as Jose Mourinho’s side secured a spot in back-to-back European finals.

Although Roma might have shown some extended inconsistencies over the past few months, the Italian icons will now have their full attention fixed on a history-making battle against Sevilla on May 31st.

Although Bayer Leverkusen might have opened their second-leg showdown still smelling the chance to write their own piece of Europa League history, Xabi Alonso’s men showed many of the attacking issues that have haunted them over recent times.

On a night when Roma secured back-to-back European finals for the first time in their illustrious history, what did we learn from Thursday’s second-leg showdown at the BayArena?

Roma have undoubtedly saved their best for the European stage

Once again putting in another flat Serie A performance last weekend as they played out an uninspiring 0-0 draw away at Bologna, it is no secret that Roma have placed all of their eggs in the Europa League basket.

Free-falling out of Italy’s top-four and without a domestic win to their name since claiming a 3-0 victory against Udinese on April 16th, the Giallorossi have struggled to find much stability on either side of opening 2023.

However, despite needing a Serie A miracle if they are to book an automatic European ticket this season, Mourinho’s side have once again impressed with their continued rugged displays while on European duties.

Eventually edging their way past Dutch giants Feyenoord earlier in the month, Roma will be more than aware of just how important Europa League success will be on May 31st.

Clinching what looks like it could be a defensive-heavy showdown against Europa League record-breakers Sevilla, the Giallorossi’s trip to Budapest is certainly their best chance to book a Champions League return since 2018.

Leverkusen’s attacking issues cost them again

Although Bayer Leverkusen might have been disappointed after slumping to a first-leg defeat at the Stadio Olimpico, Alonso’s side returned to Germany on Thursday night confident that they could overturn Roma’s slender advantage.

However, although Die Werkself might have been backed by a vocal home support at the BayArena here, Alonso will be more than aware that is was their recent attacking struggles that cost them the chance to spring a major Europa League upset.

Although Diaby might have rattled the woodwork during the first-half and there was certainly plenty of huff and puff from Leverkusen, their recent toothless displays will be causing the one-time Liverpool midfield a real headache.

Failing to pick up much momentum last weekend as they had to settle for a 1-1 stalemate away at Stuttgart, Thursday’s hosts now suddenly find themselves in the midst of a five-match winless run across all competitions – a run that has seen them bag just a pair of goals.

Currently sat outside the Bundesliga’s top-six and appearing to limp their way over the finish line, Alonso’s crestfallen squad will know that they don’t have time to feel sorry for themselves.

Mourinho can make even more European history

Although Mourinho might have found himself under plenty of domestic scrutiny on either side of the World Cup’s winter break, the former Manchester United boss has undoubtedly been the mastermind behind Roma’s European romp over the past two seasons.

Making real history almost 12 months ago as his squad were crowned as the inaugural Europa Conference League champions, the 60-year-old now had his sights set on writing another chapter in the European record books.

Guiding Roma to a first European trophy in 31 years last season – an achievement that his seen him become almost immortalised at the Stadio Olimpico – Mourinho has also historically proven that he can finish the job when at the final hurdle.

In fact, along with guiding Man United to their last piece of European silverware back in 2017, the Portuguese tactician has won all five of his previous five European finals.

Coming up against Sevilla on plenty of occasions during his trophy-glittered tenure at Real Madrid, there is no doubt that ‘The Special One’ will already be hatching his Europa League formula ahead of another history-making night in Budapest on May 31st.

Match Report

Bayer Leverkusen: Hradecky, Tapsoba, Tah, Hincapie, Bakker, Palacios, Demibray, Frimpong, Wirtz, Diaby, Azmoun

Subs: Adil, Amiri, Hlozek

Roma: Patricio, Mancini, Cristante, Ibanez, Spinazzola, Pellegrini, Matic, Bove, Celik, Belotti, Abraham

Subs: Smalling, Wijnaldum, Zalewski

Goals: N/A

Yellow Cards: Bayer Leverkusen: Tapsoba, Frimpong, Hincapie, Diaby, Palacios – Roma: Abraham, Cristante, Ibanez

Red Cards: N/A

Referee: Slavko VincUc

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Tom Dunstan


Formerly of The Independent, Tom has spent the past six years as one of our senior writers and betting experts. Alongside working with numerous publications from across the globe, Tom also graduated from the University of Falmouth in 2014 with a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Digital Media.
Spending almost the past decade working in countries such as Australia, New Zealand and Canada, he has also spent time featuring in sports radio. Tom can be followed on Instagram - @iamtomdunstan

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