Jose Mourinho insists there will be ‘no squad rotation’ for Roma in the Europa Conference League with Vitesse, but is horrified by the state of the pitch in Arnhem. ‘It is not suited to football.’
The first leg of the Round of 16 kicks off in Arnhem on Thursday at 17.45 GMT.
“We are unbeaten in seven Serie A games and in the last couple I saw great concentration from the first minute to the last,” said the coach in his press conference.
“When you are playing in a knockout competition, every minute is crucial and any dip in concentration can get you eliminated. This is why I feel confident.”
The Stadio Olimpico has been criticised many times for its maintenance, but Mourinho insists the situation at the GelreDome is even worse.
“This is a surprise for me, because it’s the first time I’ve played in the Netherlands on a pitch that is not suited to football. It will be very difficult to play, but we are here to get a result and reach the quarter-finals.
“There will be no squad rotation, we will use our strongest team and strong players on the bench too. Our objectives are clear, we have Serie A and the Conference League, we know every game is decisive.”
Mourinho was asked by the local journalists for an opinion on Dutch football and the Special One again did not take a diplomatic approach.
“I started out with Louis van Gaal, so I can only express my gratitude to him. However, considering the horrible state of the pitches now, perhaps the attacking Dutch approach is changing. I’ve been coming to this country for over 20 years and the pitches were always in great condition. I don’t understand how it’s possible.”
Mourinho: “I don’t know what has happened with the pitch here. This is the first time coming to the Netherlands, and I’ve been coming here for almost 20 years, where I’ve seen a pitch here in a state like this.”
“This is the knockouts, not the group stage – it comes down to the details.”
— AS Roma English (@ASRomaEN) March 9, 2022