Jose Mourinho insists he really does get along with Maurizio Sarri and they were joking around after the derby draw, but inevitably reserved criticism for the referee.

This was a derby of two halves, as while the Biancocelesti had the better start with Luis Alberto thumping the upright and a Rui Patricio save on Alessio Romagnoli’s header, the Giallorossi made it a far more balanced second half.

That is perhaps not what some might’ve predicted, considering Roma were in Prague on Thursday night for the Europa League, but they did not seem particularly fatigued in comparison to their rivals.

“It feels like a point. We play to win, a point is positive, it’s better than a defeat, especially against a team with more or less the same objectives. It’s a point,” Mourinho told DAZN.

“The players in the best shape were chosen, especially in midfield. Renato Sanches, Pellegrini, Aouar are not in the best condition. We chose players who had the heart, mind, legs and nerves to play a game of this level.

“My strategy was to use the wing-backs who could compensate for the way Lazio play, as it was very, very tough for Spinazzola and Karsdorp.”

Curiously, Roma have failed to score a single goal in their last three editions of the derby under Mourinho.

“We had only three defenders available. When the referee has the criteria against us – only against us – to give two yellow cards to centre-backs in the first 20 minutes, that makes it very difficult for us.

“That changes the game tactically too. I told Karsdorp never jump on Marusic, as it gives an opportunity for Pedro to run into space, he’s fantastic at that.

“I thought the lads played with character, they saw a lot of the ball, I think it was roughly 50-50. We had a few scoring opportunities, I think if Bove was fresh, he’d have scored at least one of them.”

Paulo Dybala was another who was not in great shape, but lasted for almost the full match at the Stadio Olimpico.

“This is his quality, he worked hard for us. He gave a sense of confidence to the team, the class that he has in transition, especially against Lazio who have many fresh legs to come off the bench, unlike us. If we sat back and defended the last 20 minutes, it would be difficult.”

Mourinho exchanged quite a few bitter comments with Sarri over the last week, and they had a few on the touchline too, but the Special One assures they do get along.

“He is always good fun with me, we joked around before the game about the words that were exchanged during the week. I also said something that is true, we do like each other.

“We joked after the match that the meaning of the draw is for the next two weeks neither of us will smile, but we won’t cry either. That’s the meaning of a draw.”

The winner would’ve taken a big step towards the Champions League places, but instead they are both left mid-table and out of the European spots.

“We are three points off fourth place and as far as I am concerned, the season started in Week 4. If the season had started then, we would be in the Champions League spots.

“During that period, there was just one disastrous performance against Genoa, but for the rest we played to our potential. That potential is damaged by lacking players such as Smalling and Renato Sanches.

“We can only hope that the players return to at least some level of fitness so we can use them. Renato Sanches is the example of a player who can give us a great deal, if we can play him.”

Mourinho was asked if he is satisfied with the season so far.

“I am very demanding with myself. This is my nature, I am never satisfied.”

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