The first UEFA Europa Conference League final, between Roma and Feyenoord, is an opportunity for two seasoned contenders to complete a unique collection of winners’ medals, and for two in-form strikers to finish top of the standings.
Brought to you by Enterprise Rent-A-Car, we take a look at the talking points.
Can Mourinho complete the set…?
Not a man normally given to showing his feelings, José Mourinho cried after Roma booked his place in the final, with the 59-year-old saying: “I shed a tear because my emotions were with everyone who loves this club. It’s a giant club without the trophy room that goes with it.”
Roma have yet to win a major European trophy – they were European Cup runners-up in 1984 and beaten in 191 UEFA Cup finals – but Mourinho have plenty: two UEFA Champions League titles (with Porto in 2004 and Inter in 2010) and two UEFA Cups/UEFA Europa League (Porto 2003, Manchester United 2017). If they won the UEFA Europa Conference League trophy, the ‘Special One’ would have won UEFA’s three main club competitions.
… or will Feyenoord arrive first?
Strangely, Feyenoord are looking to complete the same set as Mourinho; they won the UEFA Champions League trophy while it was still the European Cup in 1970, and won the UEFA Cup, now the UEFA Europa League, in 1974 and 2002.
The Rotterdam team would thus be the first club to have had the three most prestigious trophies in UEFA men’s club competition in their cabinet if they managed to destroy Mourinho’s dream.
Top scorers head to shootout
Tammy Abraham told UEFA.com that Mourinho persuaded him to leave Chelsea for Italy this summer, asking: “Would you rather stay in the rain in England or come to the sun in Rome?” It’s a winning decision so far, with the 24-year-old scoring over 20 goals in all competitions in his debut campaign, including nine in the UEFA Europa Conference League.
The only player to get more in the new competition is Feyenoord’s Cyriel Dessers, who has scored ten since the start of the group stage. “Who would have thought at the start of the season that we would reach a European final?” said the striker, who joined the club on loan from Genk in his native Belgium in August. “This is amazing.”
Past encounters suggest a close contest
Roma and Feyenoord have met before, with long-serving midfielder Jens Toornstra among the players involved as the Rotterdam side lost to the Giallorossi 3-2 on aggregate in the UEFA Europa round of 16 League 2014/15. However, the Europa Conference League final is another level of tie.
Crucially for Feyenoord, they come to decider yet to lose from the start of the group stage (W8 D4). Roma’s record, on the other hand, is W7 D3 L2. Unlike Roma, people from Rotterdam have already been to Tirana; they drew 0–0 with Partizani in a 1991/92 Cup Winners’ Cup first round match at the Qemal Stafa Stadium, which was demolished to build the National Arena.
When and where does the Europa Conference League final take place?
The final of this season takes place at the National Arena in Tirana. The match will kick off at 21:00 CET on Wednesday, May 25.